How many gallons of ocean water would you have to filter to get 1 ton of carbon out?

If you took one gallon of ocean water out of the north atlantic how much carbon would that be? How many gallons would it take to get a ton?

Thanks, Shawn

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are a lot of factors that affect how much carbon is in the water. Warmer water holds less carbon than cold water; thus as temperatures rise atmospheric CO2 rises.

    The oceans contain around 36,000 gigatonnes of carbon, mostly in the form of bicarbonate ion (over 90%, with most of the remainder being carbonate). Extreme storms such as hurricanes and typhoons bury a lot of carbon, because they wash away so much sediment. For instance, a team reported in the July 2008 issue of the journal Geology that a single typhoon in Taiwan buries as much carbon in the ocean -- in the form of sediment -- as all the other rains in that country all year long combined. Inorganic carbon, that is carbon compounds with no carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bonds, is important in its reactions within water. This carbon exchange becomes important in controlling pH in the ocean and can also vary as a source or sink for carbon. Carbon is readily exchanged between the atmosphere and ocean. In regions of oceanic upwelling, carbon is released to the atmosphere. Conversely, regions of downwelling transfer carbon (CO2) from the atmosphere to the ocean. When CO2 enters the ocean, it participates in a series of reactions which are locally in equilibrium:


    CO2(atmospheric) ⇌ CO2(dissolved)

    Conversion to carbonic acid:

    CO2(dissolved) + H2O ⇌ H2CO3

    First ionization:

    H2CO3 ⇌ H+ + HCO3− (bicarbonate ion)

    Second ionization:

    HCO3− ⇌ H+ + CO3−− (carbonate ion)

    This set of reactions, each of which has its own equilibrium coefficient determines the form that inorganic carbon takes in the oceans. The coefficients, which have been determined empirically for ocean water, are themselves functions of temperature, pressure, and the presence of other ions (especially borate). In the ocean the equilibria strongly favor bicarbonate. Since this ion is three steps removed from atmospheric CO2, the level of inorganic carbon storage in the ocean does not have a proportion of unity to the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2. The factor for the ocean is about ten: that is, for a 10% increase in atmospheric CO2, oceanic storage (in equilibrium) increases by about 1%, with the exact factor dependent on local conditions. This buffer factor is often called the "Revelle Factor", after Roger Revelle.

    In the oceans, bicarbonate can combine with calcium to form limestone (calcium carbonate, CaCO3, with silica), which precipitates to the ocean floor. Limestone is the largest reservoir of carbon in the carbon cycle. The calcium comes from the weathering of calcium-silicate rocks, which causes the silicon in the rocks to combine with oxygen to form sand or quartz (silicon dioxide), leaving calcium ions available to form limestone.

  • 1 decade ago

    The only carbon you're likely to get from filtration is marine organisms ranging from seaweed to plankton to fish to whales. Do some research and you can probably find some estimates of the total mass of marine life and the total volume of the oceans. You could then calculate the average mass of marine life per gallon of water. Narrowing that down to the north atlantic would be harder.

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