Sensing Exports of Anthropogenic Carbon through Ocean Observation

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Program Description:

The Sensing Exports of Anthropogenic Carbon through Ocean Observation (SEA CO2) program seeks to accelerate the development of the marine carbon dioxide removal (mCDR) carbon capture industry through the advancement of scalable Measurement, Reporting and Validation (MRV) technologies. SEA CO2 seeks to develop new approaches to chemical oceanographic sensing, modeling, and data characterization by developing:

  • marine carbon sensor technologies operating across spatial and temporal scales broad enough to sufficiently understand mCDR effects on the ocean carbon cycle, quantify carbon removal efficiency, and reduce or eliminate under-sampling concerns that limit carbon credit quality; and  
  • regional-scale ocean carbon flux models that integrate and estimate additional carbon drawn down in the combined major carbon cycles likely to be impacted by one or more mCDR approaches for selected regions. 

Innovation Need:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that we must limit global warming to below 2°C by 2100 to avoid significant, irreversible, and negative climate change impacts to our environment. Achieving this goal can only occur through a combination of both net-zero emissions reduction and removal technologies. mCDR will be an essential component of the future carbon capture industry. The SEA CO2 program will support the mCDR industry by developing innovative MRV technologies and models that will allow for persistent, scaled sensing and characterization to inform a data-driven marine carbon accounting framework. These innovations in MRV technology could dramatically increase the commercialization value of the United States maritime negative carbon industry and thus increase our competitiveness in a future global carbon market.

Potential Impact:

If successful, SEA CO2 MRV technology innovations will ensure that the quantity and quality of emission removals are correctly valued in carbon markets, which will support accelerated adoption of mCDR to remove historic emissions and play a significant role in decarbonization efforts.  This program supports ARPA-E mission goals as follows:


SEA CO2 projects could enable the commercialization of more effective and efficient mCDR techniques that use less energy, leaving the U.S. less vulnerable to energy shortfalls.



    SEA CO2 projects would support the development of the mCDR industry, playing an essential role in expanding the future negative emissions industry and removing historical emissions.


    SEA CO2 projects could stimulate the critical growth of the U.S. maritime negative carbon industry through development of MRV technologies.



    Program Director:
    Dr. Simon Freeman
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