Peter Brewer is an ocean chemist, and senior scientist, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). His research interests are broad, and include the ocean geochemistry of greenhouse gases. He has also devised novel techniques both for measurement, and for extracting the oceanic signatures of global change. At MBARI his current interests include the geochemistry of gas hydrates, and the evolution of the oceanic fossil fuel CO2 signal. Prior to joining MBARI in 1991 he spent 24 years as a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, rising to the rank of senior scientist. He served as program manager for Ocean Chemistry at the National Science Foundation from 1981-1983, receiving the NSF Sustained Superior Performance Award. Dr. Brewer has taken part in more than 30 deep-sea cruises, and has served as chief scientist on major expeditions. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has served as a member of SCOR, and as vice-chair of JGOFS. He has served as a member of the Vice-President’s Environmental Task Force, and is a member of MEDEA. He served as president of the Ocean Sciences Section of AGU from 1994-1996. At MBARI, Dr. Brewer served as president and chief executive officer from 1991-1996, completing major laboratory and SWATH ship construction programs and doubling the size of the Institution, before returning to full time research. Dr. Brewer received a B.S. and Ph.D. from Liverpool University.
Contemplating Action: Storing Carbon Dioxide in the Ocean
Concerns about global climate change suggest that we should level off, or even decrease, atmospheric carbon dioxide. Recent advances in ocean science hint at the possibility of taking active steps to achieve this. Experiments have shown that it is possible to inject carbon dioxide directly into the deep ocean, where it forms a solid gas hydrate. Other options have also been explored, such as fertilizing seawater to speed up the growth of microscopic plants that consume carbon dioxide. If we want to hold carbon dioxide levels steady, large interventions will be necessary. Is this even possible? And would there be unforeseen environmental consequences? Forty-two years after Roger Revelle’s analysis of the “greenhouse” problem, society may be ready to take action through active use of the enormous buffering capacity of the ocean.
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