Recycling, tree planting, carpooling. All over the planet people are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint; however, mother nature is doing her part too.
John Gamon, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is looking at the problem of atmospheric carbon from a different angle: how nature reduces carbon in the atmosphere for free. Imagine the global business potential of more accurate measuring tools for carbon exchange, and you are viewing the biosphere from Gamon’s vantage point.
Currently the science community has many ways to measure the carbon exchange between the Earth and the atmosphere. For some unexplained reason, the biosphere has been slowing down the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere. Some carbon is getting trapped in the biosphere, which reduces the rate of global warming.
Gamon plans to get industry involved in using carbon flux measurement tools to solve carbon emission problems, thereby enhancing the capability of the biosphere to capture carbon.
“Carbon stored naturally has value and carbon in the atmosphere loses its value. When we have the carbon captured, we gain something,” Gamon said. “Managing our forests, farms and grasslands so that they are capturing carbon means we can put value on that.”
When Gamon and his colleague, Susan Ustin of the University of California, applied for the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership, they included a letter from TEC Edmonton, the university’s exclusive technology transfer agent, which validated the market potential of Gamon’s ideas. Kamren Farr, a TEC Edmonton market analyst, undertook an early market assessment that showed great promise for their plan, to create a Biospheric Carbon Index that will give people a way to tell whether a piece of land is gaining or losing carbon to the atmosphere.
Recently Gamon and Ustin were awarded $100,000 in CCSIP funding to help them develop their action plan and $69,765 will go towards the U of A. Gamon hopes to not only encourage people to invest in farms and factories that are “green,” but also to provide more information about how to facilitate carbon capture in the biosphere.
Even though Gamon’s ideas are at a very early stage of conceptualization, he has experienced the benefit of connecting with TEC Edmonton. He appreciated how well connected Farr is with the industry and the expertise and support that he received so far.
“I was very encouraged when I spoke to TEC Edmonton. They were able to grasp the potential of my proposal right away,” Gamon said. He hopes to continue to work with TEC Edmonton as the details of his action plan are worked out.
Over the next few months, Folio will examine one of the cornerstones of the university’s Dare to Discover vision, connecting communities, by examining the role TEC Edmonton plays in advancing mutual goals by fostering partnerships with business and industry.