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Can enhanced weathering provide an effective climate change mitigation strategy?

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Anthropogenic inputs of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere are the primary cause of global warming. New techniques and technologies are urgently required to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels and achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the post-industrialisation increase in global temperature to 1.5°C. Enhanced Weathering (EW) is a geoengineering strategy proposed to help facilitate this by accelerating the rate of natural chemical rock weathering that regulates Earth’s atmospheric CO2 levels over long (million year) timescales [1,2]. Although EW has been tested in laboratories and on small scales, its effectiveness at sequestering significant quantities of CO2 over human timescales has yet to be determined.
This project will provide important new constraints on the effectiveness of EW for mitigating climate change. This will be done through a series of field experiments in the USA and Malaysia, where ground rocks are being applied to agricultural crops to harness the photosynthate energy of plants to accelerate their weathering rates [3]. This project will use a combination of novel stable isotope systems (e.g. Mg, Sr, Li) and other chemical techniques to characterize the rates of chemical weathering and CO2 drawdown, as well as the uptake of elements by plants and formation of secondary minerals.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


[1] Andrews, M.G. and Taylor, L.L. 2019. Combating climate change through enhanced weathering of agricultural soils. Elements 15, 253-258.
[2] Beerling D.J., Leake J.R., Long S.P., Scholes J.D., Ton J., Nelson P.N., Kantzas E., Taylor L., Sarkar B., Kelland M., DeLucia E., Kantola I., Müller C., Rau G. and Hansen J. 2018. Farming with crops and rocks to address global climate, food and soil security. Nature Plants 4, 138-147.
[3] Edwards D.P., Lim, F., James R.H., Pearce C.R., Scholes J., Freckleton, R.P. and Beerling, D.J. 2017. Climate change mitigation: potential benefits and pitfalls of enhanced rock weathering in tropical agriculture. Biology Letters 13. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0715

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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