National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce

NOAA Carbon Dioxide Removal Strategy Released: A path forward to meet NOAA’s climate goals

Turquoise clear water of Glacier Bay National Park

Glacial silt photographed from R/V Rachel Carson in Glacier Bay National Park, 2022. The natural addition of glacial silt colors coastal waters and is a potential analog for ocean alkalinity enhancement, a CDR technique, as it increases the alkalinity in the marine environment. Increasing ocean alkalinity shifts natural air-sea CO2 exchanges in favor of enhanced ocean storage.  Photo Credit: Marina May (University of Washington / NOAA).

June 05, 2023

Climate change already affects every part of the globe, with potentially dire consequences for many ecosystems and human communities. Reducing human-caused emissions of greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide, is the most important strategy for addressing the impacts of climate change, and the most feasible given current technology. Alongside emissions reductions, the IPCC recommends that climate interventions like carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will be needed to meet climate targets and begin to stabilize Earth’s climate system. 

CDR refers to a portfolio of techniques that are used to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and lock them away permanently in secure reservoirs, such as the ocean, forests, soils and geologic formations. While negative emissions technologies such as carbon removal techniques are still in the early stages of development in most cases, the body of research and interest around these techniques is growing fast.

Today, NOAA released a report outlining its Carbon Dioxide Removal Strategy which identified and explored 11 removal techniques. The report does not endorse any one technique but rather outlines the relative strengths and weaknesses of each technique and describes NOAA’s potential research contributions.  The effort was led by NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and involved contributions from across the agency, including more than 60 technical experts, 33 primary authors, and a 10-member executive advisory board.

“After two years of working with our partners in other agencies, private industry, NGOs, and the public, it’s exciting to showcase new ways NOAA’s mission can support the new blue economy.” says Jessica Cross, Carbon Dioxide Removal Co-Lead at NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program and lead author of the strategy. 

NOAA is well-positioned to lead in the analysis of impact, effectiveness, feasibility, and risk of many CDR techniques to understand the climate benefits and economic potential of carbon management. NOAA’s existing and innovative assets, such as long-term observations, models, ecosystem assessments, and spatial planning tools can inform evidence-based decisions. Those decisions, in turn, could be used by many in the carbon removal sector, including state and local governments, private sector entities and non-profit organizations, as well as other federal agencies. 

To support these efforts, the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, on behalf of that National Oceanographic and Partnership Program, announced a $24 million funding opportunity for proposals focused on Marine Carbon Dioxide Removal (mCDR) to support informed decisions regarding a potential scaled negative carbon ocean industry. Announcement of the awards will be in late summer 2023. 

NOAA PMEL, in partnership with academic institutions, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and startup companies are modeling and measuring the effectiveness of electrodialysis-based ocean alkalinity enhancement for ocean acidification mitigation and atmospheric carbon dioxide removal. This work is supported by NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, ClimateWorks Foundation and Department of Energy’s Water Power and Technology Office.

Join NOAA, this Wednesday, June 7 from 4:45-5:30 pm ET for a free, virtual panel at Capitol Hill Ocean Week to hear about the finalized strategy, NOAA’s Climate Ready Nation targets, climate intervention programs and from NOAA’s partners in CDR research.