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Deep Carbon Observatory

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Deep Carbon Observatory


What to study?

For Prelims: Why study carbon in earth? About CDO.

For Mains: Significance of the project and challenges involved.

Context: Deep Carbon Observatory (CDO) has released a report on Carbon, it’s emissions and availability.

The study’s results are concerning due to past extinction events linked to the mass release of atmospheric CO2.


Key findings:

  1. Less than one percent of the planet’s carbon is found above surface.
  2. The rest of the carbon – about 1.85 billion gigatonnes – is trapped in the planet’s crust and mantle.
  3. The carbon that is found in the oceans, the land and the atmosphere, for the most part, appears to be disturbed by human activity.
  4. Human emissions of the greenhouse gas are 100 times greater than all of Earth’s volcanoes.
  5. Human activity contributes about 10 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Natural geological process underground, for comparison, release about 10 times less of the global warming gas.
  6. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and oceans from volcanoes account for about 280 to 360 million tonnes.
  7. The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human actives contribute between 40 and 100 times the amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.


About Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO):

It is a global community of more than 1000 scientists on a ten-year quest to understand the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in Earth.


Why study carbon in Earth?

Carbon plays a fundamental role on Earth. It forms the chemical backbone for all essential organic molecules produced by living organisms. Carbon-based fuels supply most of society’s energy. Atmospheric carbon dioxide affects Earth’s climate. Yet despite its importance, remarkably little is known about the physical, chemical, and biological behavior of carbon in the vast majority of Earth’s interior.



Sources: the Hindu.