Unintended impacts on atmospheric composition and climate from large-scale deployment of ERW within oil palm plantations over southeast Asia

Grantham Scholar Chenxi Liu’s project aims to investigate the biogeophysical and biogeochemical impacts of large-scale enhanced rock weathering deployment within oil palm tree plantations.

The project

The 2023 IPCC Report recognizes that biological CDR methods like afforestation/reforestation (AR), improved forest management, soil carbon sequestration, peatland restoration and coastal blue carbon management can enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions, employment, and local livelihoods. However, these approaches will have consequences for socioeconomic and environmental impacts, such as biodiversity, food and water security, local livelihoods, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For better understanding of the impacts between climate change and AR, the palm oil tree in Indonesia will be a good object of observation, which is the world’s biggest producer and has at least 30 million acres of oil palm plantations. And large economic incentives and inputs will be needed to ensure that land-use change is prevented.

However, the huge amount of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by the palm oil trees not only exchange oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor with the atmosphere but also emit Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) at the same time. When the BVOCs driven by the photochemically reaction, ozone, secondary organic aerosol, and particulate matter can be formed and have indirect affect with climate change. Therefore, we could identify the possible implications of an AR program for climate change through this research and using resources more efficiently or that shift global development towards sustainability include fewer challenges.

The project will investigate these interactions through a combination of measurements in data analysis and numerical modelling. In phase1, I will identify the relationship between the BVOCs and natural factors in Indonesia. In phase2, I will use the measurements with the community atmosphere model (CAM6) and community land model (CLM5) embedded in an Earth System Model to simulate possible effects to estimate the consequences of AR and enhanced rock weathering in climate change co-deployment in southeast Asia and globally.