How does carbon get into the atmosphere?

Atmospheric carbon dioxide comes from two primary sources—natural and human activities. Natural sources of carbon dioxide include most animals, which exhale carbon dioxide as a waste product. Human activities that lead to carbon dioxide emissions come primarily from energy production, including burning coal, oil, or natural gas.

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How much carbon dioxide does the United States and the World emit each year from energy sources?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2017, the United States emitted 5.1 billion metric tons of energy-related carbon dioxide , while the global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide totaled 32.5 billion metric tons.

Has the USGS made any Biologic Carbon Sequestration assessments?

The USGS is congressionally mandated (2007 Energy Independence and Security Act) to conduct a comprehensive national assessment of storage and flux (flow) of carbon and the fluxes of other greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) in ecosystems. At this writing, reports have been completed for Alaska , the Eastern U.S. , the Great Plains , and...

Which area is the best for geologic carbon sequestration?

It is difficult to characterize one area as “the best” for carbon sequestration because the answer depends on the question – best for what? However, the area of the assessment with the most storage potential for carbon dioxide is the Coastal Plains region, which includes coastal basins from Texas to Georgia. That region accounts for 2,000 metric...

What’s the difference between geologic and biologic carbon sequestration?

Geologic carbon sequestration is the process of storing carbon dioxide (CO2) in underground geologic formations. The CO2 is usually pressurized until it becomes a liquid, and then it is injected into porous rock formations in geologic basins. This method of carbon storage is also sometimes a part of enhanced oil recovery, otherwise known as...

How much carbon dioxide can the United States store via geologic sequestration?

In 2013, the USGS released the first-ever comprehensive, nation-wide assessment of geologic carbon sequestration , which estimates a mean storage potential of 3,000 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide. The assessment is the first geologically-based, probabilistic assessment, with a range of 2,400 to 3,700 metric gigatons of potential carbon dioxide...

What is carbon sequestration?

Carbon dioxide is the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change. The USGS is conducting assessments on two major types of carbon...
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Date published: October 26, 2015

Ancient Permafrost Quickly Transforms to Carbon Dioxide upon Thaw

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and key academic partners have quantified how rapidly ancient permafrost decomposes upon thawing and how much carbon dioxide is produced in the process.

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: March 11, 2014

Amazon Carbon Dynamics: Understanding the Photosynthesis-Climate Link

What controls the response of photosynthesis in Amazon tropical forests to seasonal variations in climate?

Date published: December 7, 2009

Climate Projections Underestimate CO2 Impact

The climate may be 30–50 percent more sensitive to atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long term than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience yesterday.
Projections over the next hundreds of years of climate conditions, including global temperatures, may need to be adjusted to reflect this higher sensitivity.

Date published: July 23, 2008

"Carbon farm" project will study ways to capture atmospheric CO2

Imagine a new kind of farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - "carbon-capture" farming, which traps atmospheric carbon dioxide and rebuilds lost soils. 

Date published: July 23, 2008

"Carbon farm" project will study ways to capture atmospheric CO2

Imagine a new kind of farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - "carbon-capture" farming, which traps atmospheric carbon dioxide and rebuilds lost soils. 

Date published: May 28, 1998

Climate Change May Affect the Carbon Balance of a Rocky Mountain Wetland

BOSTON--The carbon balance of wetlands in the southern Rocky Mountains may be very sensitive to small changes in local climate, according to recent research conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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March 22, 2019

How Does Carbon Get Into the Atmosphere?

A short video on how carbon can get into the atmosphere. 

Uncovering the Ecosystem Service Value of Carbon Sequestration in National Parks. Photo by Robert Crootof, NPS.
December 8, 2016

A valley with smog pollution from Carbon Sequestration.

Uncovering the Ecosystem Service Value of Carbon Sequestration in National Parks. Photo by Robert Crootof, NPS.

Orthoimage of a four-way interchange, Los Angeles, CA
October 31, 2016

Orthoimage, traffic interchange, LA CA

Orthoimage of a four-way interchange, Los Angeles, CA

January 27, 2011

PubTalk 1/2011 — Capture and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

Is Sequestration Necessary? Can We Do It at an Acceptable Total Cost?

By Yousif Kharaka, USGS National Research Program

 

  • Combustion of fossil fuels currently releases approximately 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere annually
  • Increased anthropogenic emissions have dramatically raised
...
Image: Studying Old Organic Carbon in the Yukon River
August 14, 2009

Studying Old Organic Carbon in the Yukon River

Melt water stream discharging from Gulkana Glacier, Alaska.

USGS research of the Yukon River has had a long term goal of determining the source and fate of organic carbon transported by the river to the Bering Sea and ultimately the Arctic Ocean.

Results of recent analyses identified old carbonin the Yukon River, but also indicated that the chemical source

...
USGS
April 5, 2009

Public Lecture Sneak Peek: Soils, Carbon, and the Global exCHANGE

  • Studying Arctic Changes during the International Polar Year
  • Why soils aren't just for growing crops
  • What does carbon have to do with global weather and climate?
  • Balancing tradeoffs between the carbon cycle, econoic concerns, and the environment
  • Making choices-- from household decisions to national policies

Speaker:

...
Image: Davis Rd. Carbon Dioxide Vent
December 25, 2004

Davis Rd. Carbon Dioxide Vent

Davis Rd. carbon dioxide vent, Salton Sea, California.

Carbon emissions associated with land use, land use change, and disturbance
November 30, 2000

Carbon emissions associated with land change for the Sierra Nevadas

For the A1B-LUD scenario, cumulative emissions associated with land use, land use change, and disturbance (left) and projected land use, land cover, and disturbance area (right).

Wetlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle

Wetlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle

Major Carbon Pools

Major Carbon Pools

Infographic showing major carbon storage pools