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.

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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.

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: January 13, 2016

Manmade Mercury Emissions Decline 30 Percent from 1990-2010

Between 1990 and 2010, global mercury emissions from manmade sources declined 30 percent, according to a new analysis by Harvard University, Peking University, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, and the University of Alberta. These results challenge long-standing assumptions about mercury emission trends.

Date published: June 30, 2015

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Remain the Primary Threat to Polar Bears

Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.

Date published: April 8, 2015

Scientists Predict Gradual, Prolonged Permafrost Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A new scientific synthesis suggests a gradual, prolonged release of greenhouse gases from permafrost soils in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, which may afford society more time to adapt to environmental changes, say scientists in a paper published in Nature today. 

Date published: June 14, 2011

Human Activities Produce More Carbon Dioxide Emissions Than Do Volcanoes

On average, human activities put out in just three to five days, the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that volcanoes produce globally each year. This is one of the messages detailed in a new article "Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide" by Terrance Gerlach of the U.S. Geological Survey appearing in this week's issue of Eos, from the American Geophysical Union. 

Date published: December 15, 2010

Projected Losses of Arctic Sea-Ice and Polar Bear Habitat may be Reduced if Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Stabilized

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sea-ice habitats essential to polar bears would likely respond positively should more curbs be placed on global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new modeling study published today in the journal, Nature. 

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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. 

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
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Image: Coal Burning Power Plant

Coal Burning Power Plant

A coal burning power plant.

Major Carbon Pools

Major Carbon Pools

Infographic showing major carbon storage pools