News

Managing UK agriculture with rock dust could absorb up to 45 per cent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide needed for net-zero, research shows

Apr 25, 2022

Adding rock dust to UK agricultural soils could absorb up to 45 per cent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide needed to reach net zero, according to a major new study led by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

The study, led by Dr Euripides Kantzas, a senior research associate in the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University, provides the first detailed analysis of the potential and costs of greenhouse gas removal by enhanced weathering in the UK over the next 50 years.

Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and senior author of the study, said: “Our analysis highlights the potential of UK agriculture to deliver substantial carbon drawdown by transitioning to managing arable farms with rock dust, with added benefits for soil health and food security.”

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Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Apr 4, 2022

The Working Group III report provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, and examines the sources of global emissions. It explains developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts, assessing the impact of national climate pledges in relation to long-term emissions goals.

“The new W.G.III IPCC report considers the carbon dioxide removal technologies required for the world (& UK) to reach net-zero. These technologies include enhanced weathering with the potential for carbon removal + increased food & soil security” Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation & co-author to Chapter 12 ‘Cross-sectoral perspectives’ of this vitally important report.

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BBC World Follow the Food: ‘Turn back the climate clock on food production’

Mar 15, 2022

Researchers from the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation, Carl Bernacchi and Lisa Ainsworth at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, discuss with BBC World Follow the Food how basalt could “turn back the climate clock on food production.”

 

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Job vacancy: Research Centre Manager

Jan 20, 2022

Come and join us! We’re looking for an excellent and enthusiastic Research Centre Manager to support the development and delivery of two leading, high-profile research programmes investigating all aspects of an agriculture based carbon drawdown technique for mitigating climate change called enhanced rock weathering (ERW).

The Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M) @lc3m_cdr is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Centre Award (2016-2026) and is a leading, long-term programme of global, multi-disciplinary research across four Research Themes: Earth Systems Modelling, Fundamental Crop Weathering Science, Applied Weathering Science and Sustainability & Society with established field sites in Australia, Malaysia, UK and the USA.

The Greenhouse Gas Removal with UK agriculture via enhanced rock weathering Demonstrator @UKERW_GGRD, funded by UKRI-BBSRC (2021-2025), builds on the mission of LC3M. The Demonstrator is a UK focused integrated whole system assessment of the science, societal and scalability opportunities and challenges of enhanced rock weathering to help the UK reach NetZero by 2050. With field sites in mid-Wales, Devon and Hertfordshire, this Demonstrator is one of five, coordinated by the Directorate Hub, CO2RE.

Reporting to the PI and working closely with the academic partners, their teams and with support from David Beerling’s PA, the post-holder will be an integral part of the further development of these exciting projects.  The post-holder will have day to day responsibility for the operational management of all aspects of the programmes to help the PI and the Consortium teams to meet their strategic objectives.

Apply here by 02 February 2022

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ACCE DTP fully funded studentship: FACE-ing the future: the world’s first CO2 enriched enhanced weathering field trials.

Nov 1, 2021

We’re setting up the world’s first Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiment for studying enhanced rock weathering (ERW) with soybean and maize crops in the USA in collaboration with University of Illinois partners and we’re looking for a highly motivated student with interests in climate change mitigation, crop science, molecular biology and geochemistry to join this us on this unique and exciting opportunity to evaluate how future CO2 concentrations affect key soil microbial and plant processes driving the efficiency of ERW under in situ field conditions.

The successful candidate will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferrable skills in geochemistry, mineralogy and bioinformatics and will be embedded within our vibrant research group with outstanding facilities and expertise, working closely with the British Geological Survey.

The student will visit our FACE trials in the USA where we are growing N2-fixing C3 soybean successively for two years followed by the C4 maize for one year in six 9-m diameter FACE rings, three with elevated CO2 and three controls. Each ring is split into two with half receiving basalt and the other representing a no-basalt control. Additionally, within each ring, we will bury replicated mesh bags containing crushed basalt that will be recovered after years 1, 2, and 3 from beneath the crops, together with flash-frozen soil and root samples. Working as part of a wider project team, the student will use a suite of geochemical and mineralogical techniques to determine grain-scale weathering and N-cycling, and couple this to the functional soil metagenome and root transcriptional responses. The goal is to understand how CO2 enrichment accelerates carbon removal in croplands at the genomic level.

For full details and how to apply follow this link. Application deadline: 14th January 2022.

 

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ACCE DTP fully funded studentship: Quantifying air quality and indirect climate feedbacks of land-based greenhouse gas removal strategies.

Nov 1, 2021

We’re looking for a highly motivated student with interests in climate change mitigation, ecosystem processes and atmosphere-biosphere-climate interactions to join our vibrant research groups at the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (Sheffield) and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (Edinburgh).

The 2021 IPCC report recognises urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and large-scale CO2 removal (CDR) are urgently required to mitigate climate change. Land-based CDR strategies include afforestation/reforestation (AR) and enhanced rock weathering (ERW), but widespread implementation of these approaches will have consequences for air quality, and indirect climate feedbacks that have so far been overlooked.

An exciting feature observed from co-deployment of ERW within a pioneering large-scale (25,000 trees) AR field trial in Wales (https://www.carboncommunity.org/carbon-projects) is that ERW affects soil nitrogen cycling (Beerling et al, 2018) and increases leaf nitrogen content of deciduous and evergreen trees, leading to potential changes in biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by the trees. This in turn affects the production of other atmospheric pollutants, e.g. ozone and secondary organic aerosols, which are harmful to human and crop health, and climate.

The successful applicant will gain excellent training in a range of cutting-edge transferrable skills in measuring and modelling atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases and forest management in the context of climate change issues.

For full details and how to apply follow this link. Application deadline: 14th January 2022.

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NFU report ‘Our journey to net zero’

Oct 1, 2021

The NFU pledged an ambition for British agriculture to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Their report, ‘Our journey to net zero’ sets out the further government, industry and supply chain action needed to aid farming’s transition to net zero.

Under the report’s ‘PILLAR 3: Renewables and the bioeconomy’ section, see LC3M Director Professor David Beerling (p.14) explain how fast-track research and rapid demonstration projects like the Greenhouse Gas Removal with UK agriculture via enhanced rock weathering Demonstrator (@UKERW_GGRD) are needed to qualify promising new greenhouse gas removal methods for widespread deployment.

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Pop-Up University: Solving Earth’s climate emergency by farming with rocks!

Sep 15, 2021

Join Amy Lewis and researchers from the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation, based in the Faculty of Science for a series of live experiments showing how rock dissolution (weathering) can help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Rock dissolution occurs naturally when rocks interact with water and this is important to help slow climate change.

Meet the researchers who are working to speed up rock weathering – see live experiments and view rocks under the microscope.

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Can rock dust be a climate fix for agriculture?

Sep 2, 2021

Scientists are dusting crop fields with pulverized rocks to supercharge the chemical process that grabs carbon from the air and sequesters it in the soil. All while increasing crop yields.

Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation director, David Beerling, who is five years into a decade-long effort to investigate enhanced weathering on croplands, published a paper in Nature that demonstrated the potential of the method. He and colleagues found that if China, India, and the United States applied rock dust to all of their agricultural lands, 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide could be removed from the atmosphere.

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How Adding Rock Dust to Soil Can Help Get Carbon into the Ground

Sep 2, 2021

Researchers are finding that when pulverized rock is applied to agricultural fields, the soil pulls far more carbon from the air and crop yields increase. More studies are underway, but some scientists say this method shows significant benefits for farmers and the climate.

Leverhulme Centre director David Beerling, who is five years into a decade-long effort to investigate enhanced weathering on croplands, published a paper last year in Nature that demonstrated the potential of the method. He and colleagues found that if China, India, and the United States applied rock dust to all of their agricultural lands, 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide could be removed from the atmosphere.

The research results so far are significant enough that the IPCC mentioned enhanced weathering in its most recent report, listing the method of spreading ground-up rocks on soils as a way to capture more carbon and stimulate cropland productivity.

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