Terraffirm publishes research on promising carbon containment practices

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:12 AM EDT

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Terraffirm, a non-profit research and development organization focused on carbon sequestration, has published research on promising methods to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. With the goal of proving out best practices for low-cost and scalable carbon containment to mitigate the effects of global climate change, Terraffirm conducts research, either directly or through consultants, and disseminates the information into the public domain. Terraffirm has partnered with global environmental organizations, Yale's Carbon Containment Lab, Point Blue Conservation Science, and Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, on five projects:

Carbon sequestration in marginal lands. There are billions of acres of land unsuitable for crops, forestry, or high-density grazing throughout the world. Terraffirm is investigating the feasibility of using existing or genetically-modified plant communities to store carbon in soil in these marginal lands. Large amounts of carbon are found in specific components of certain plants: lignin and suberin are resistant to decomposition and genetic modifications may increase both the amount of carbon stored in the soil and its resistance to decomposition. Information on plants that are suitable for growing in dry lands, as well as planting strategies, are available at Terraffirm.org. This data was developed by Tara Ursell, a PhD candidate at the University of California at Davis.

  1. Carbon sequestration through wood burial. Dead trees and timber release massive amounts of carbon as they decompose. In cooperation with Yale's Carbon Containment Lab, Terraffirm has two ongoing experiments to test a hypothesis that burying the wood will slow the rate of decomposition.
  2. Wood stack preservation. Fuel reduction programs involve removing trees to reduce forest density and to improve forest health. While larger logs are removed for use, slash piles are built from the remaining natural debris. These piles are allowed to dry and then burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Using experiment designs and analyses developed by Yale's Carbon Containment Lab, Terraffirm is exploring alternatives to burning by measuring the rate of decomposition of wood in slash piles as it relates to stack foundation, stack design, and cover type.
  3. Prescribed fire metrics of success. Point Blue Conservation Science will leverage their network of partners to identify metrics which affect the success of prescribed burning on private lands and will share this information with land managers and agency partners. In 2021, they are supporting prescribed burns in five California counties and will design and implement surveys and interviews with members of the prescribed fire community and will share this information in a written report.
  4. Biochar workshop. Terraffirm is funding a project led by Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology to educate and advocate for the use of biochar production in hazardous fuel reduction treatments to reduce wildfire risks without causing adverse environmental impact. Soils enriched with biochar supply more nutrients and retain more water, improving plant productivity in ways that increase their ability to sequester more carbon — greatly reducing flammability of a site while also enhancing carbon storage in the soil.

Robert Hayes, who runs day-to-day operations at Terraffirm, said "We're very excited to be working on the most significant problem facing the world today. We hope that our funding efforts and our research will be able to move the needle."

All research and descriptions of ongoing experiments are available at Terraffirm.org.

About Terraffirm

Terraffirm was established to address the social and economic disruption that will be caused by global climate change. To this end, Terraffirm conducts and funds research, development, educational, and advocacy activities to both build awareness of climate change and help mitigate its effects. In partnership with global and regional environmental advocacy organizations, Terraffirm is developing and testing low-cost carbon containment methods and promoting the use of prescribed fire to reduce the frequency and intensity of large-scale wildfires.


Lisa Dunlevie

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SOURCE Terraffirm

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