Some carbon terms defined: carbon sequestration, carbon sink, carbon offset, carbon neutrality

If you are just learning about climate change, you will want to be familiar with the following terms related to carbon:

Carbon Sequestration: Carbon sequestration is the process involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to mitigate or defer global warming. This may happen naturally or deliberately. As a natural ongoing process, it is the biogeochemical cycling between the atmosphere and various reservoirs, such as by chemical weathering of rocks. When carried out deliberately, the process may be referred to as carbon dioxide removal, which is a form of geo-engineering (Wikipedia).

Carbon Sink: A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period. The process by which carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration. Trees serve as carbon sinks during growing seasons. The oceans are also natural sinks as they absorb of carbon dioxide  via physicochemical and biological processes. Terrestrial plants are natural carbon sinks through the process of photosynthesis. Whilst the creation of artificial sinks has been discussed, no major artificial systems remove carbon from the atmosphere on a material scale (Wikipedia).

Carbon Neutrality: Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released into the atmosphere with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, and industrial processes such as production of carbon neutral fuel (Wikipedia).

Carbon Offset: A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere. There are two markets for carbon offsets. In the larger, compliance market, companies, governments, or other entities buy carbon offsets in order to comply with caps on the total amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. In the much smaller, voluntary market, individuals, companies, or governments purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use, and other sources (Wikipedia).

Climate Feedback (Positive & Negative)

Climate Feedbacks are atmospheric processes where a change in a variable, through interactions in the system, either reinforces the original process (positive feedback) or suppresses the process (negative feedback).

  • Positive Feedback: A process that is one type of climate feedback wherein some initial change in the climate causes some secondary change that in turn increases the effects of the initial change, essentially magnifying the initial effect. Three examples are 1) ice albedo feedback, 2) water vapor release, and 3) carbon release. Find detailed discussion with examples HERE.
  • Negative Feedback: Any process where climate feedback decreases the severity of some initial change. Some initial change causes a secondary change that reduces the effect of the initial change. This feedback keeps the climate system stable.Find detailed discussion with examples HERE. Examples include 1) Evaporation and Clouds, and 2) Blackbody Radiation. See links above.