Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Even industrial-scale carbon removal would not fully undo modern warming

Authors


Abstract

Unless the world embarks on a massive program to deliberately remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, with the scale of the carbon withdrawal industry ramping up to eventually mirror the size of the modern fossil fuel industry, the bulk of modern anthropogenic warming will persist for at least the next 10,000 years, previous studies have shown. New research by MacDougall shows that if widespread active carbon removal is initiated, temperatures could be brought nearly in line with preindustrial levels by the year 3000. However, to counterbalance the release of carbon dioxide and methane from former permafrost soils, from 115% to 181% of the carbon dioxide emitted since the dawn of the industrial era would need to be drawn out of the atmosphere. Regardless of how aggressively carbon is drawn out of the air, some changes, such as the melting of Greenland's glaciers, would not be fully reversed by the year 3000.