Carbon Dioxide Sink

Last updated: January 22, 2017

What Does Carbon Dioxide Sink Mean?

A carbon dioxide sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that gathers and preserves carbon dioxide for an unspecified period of time. It gradually increases in size contrary to the carbon source. The perception of carbon dioxide sink became popular during the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, when the general public became more aware with regards to climate change.

Safeopedia Explains Carbon Dioxide Sink

The main natural carbon dioxide sinks are oceans, vegetation and other organisms. Carbon dioxide naturally mixes with ocean water and it collects the largest amount of carbon dioxide near the surface of the Earth. Plants use photosynthesis to take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by integrating it into the biomass. The carbon dioxide reservoirs are the atmosphere, the terrestrial biosphere, the oceans, and the sediments. Movement of carbon between reservoirs occurs due to various chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.

Natural sinks are much larger than artificial sinks. The main artificial sinks are landfills and carbon capture and storage activities.


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