Rivers could lead to new way in tackling climate change

You might not think it when looking at a raging river, but it could be doing its part to help tackle climate change as a rainforest.

That’s because scientists estimate that certain types of rivers, especially glacial ones, help capture carbon at a faster rate than the Amazon Rainforest. But that’s not all. Rivers are not only able to absorb carbon from our atmosphere, they also serve as the means to help fuel construction projects with eco-friendly sources of power such as biofuel.

As well as serving all these purposes, our rivers sustain our requirements as a society, including serving as sources of freshwater. Rivers run through our lives and we can’t live without them, but they need us to do our bit too.

Phenomenal carbon capture abilities

In 2019, Canadian scientists studied glacial meltwater from Ellesmere Island, which flows directly into Lake Hazen, as well as meltwater flowing in the Rocky Mountains and Greenland. What they uncovered sent shockwaves through the scientific community.

Temperate rivers are often hosts to various forms of life, while often carrying decaying organic matter downstream. This causes many ‘normal’ rivers to steadily emit CO2 into the atmosphere. However, glacial rivers are often inhospitable to most forms of life, meaning they contain less decaying organic material, and emit far less carbon as a result.

Glacial rivers also possess a special ability to scrape silicates and carbonates away within their rushing currents, allowing a process called chemical weathering to occur. These particles mix with the gases including CO2 within the water, creating carbon-imbued compounds that remain trapped within the water – a phenomenon which scientists call a carbon sink.

This glacial carbon sink process means that glacial melt seasons allow glacial rivers to absorb 40 times as much carbon from the air as the Amazon Rainforest can do – another reason for all of us to respect water.

Thames hosts floating biofuel station

Rivers have been efficient pathways for civilisations to use for conveyance, and the Thames is no exception. It remains a crucial way for businesses to ship materials, and in recent times, it has helped provide a home for a floating biofuel station.

GPS Marine and a company called Green Biofuels, which provides a form of green biofuel called GreenD+, have collaborated to create the Dispenser, a revolutionary way of making the Thames a force for good in the biofuel industry. The Dispenser is a refurbished barge which helps refuel tug vessels working on construction products along the river, along with other commercial boats, using the GreenD+ fuel. By working in this way, the Dispenser is estimated to make a carbon footprint saving of 3,861 tonnes of CO2e.

That’s because it means less vehicles on the roads being called upon to refuel river vessels.

Magnus Hammick, COO of Green Biofuels, commented: “GPS Marine are backing up their commitment to reducing air pollution and carbon emissions on the Thames with real action, and that deserves celebrating. We’re very proud to be partnered with one of London’s foremost river operators in helping them achieve their environmental goals, and becoming aligned with the aims of the PLA (Port of London Authority) to achieve Net Zero for the river too.”

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