Development of environmental impact monitoring protocol for offshore carbon capture and storage (CCS): A biological perspective
Offshore geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), known as offshore carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), has been under active investigation as a safe, effective mitigation option for reducing CO2 levels from anthropogenic fossil fuel burning and climate change. Along with increasing trends in implementation plans and related logistics on offshore CCS, thorough risk assessment (i.e. environmental impact monitoring) needs to be conducted to evaluate potential risks, such as CO2 gas leakage at injection sites. Gas leaks from offshore CCS may affect the physiology of marine organisms and disrupt certain ecosystem functions, thereby posing an environmental risk. Here, we synthesize current knowledge on environmental impact monitoring of offshore CCS with an emphasis on biological aspects and provide suggestions for better practice. Based on our critical review of preexisting literatures, this paper: 1) discusses key variables sensitive to or indicative of gas leakage by summarizing physico-chemical and ecological variables measured from previous monitoring cruises on offshore CCS; 2) lists ecosystem and organism responses to a similar environmental condition to CO2leakage and associated impacts, such as ocean acidification and hypercapnia, to predict how they serve as responsive indicators of short- and long-term gas exposure, and 3) discusses the designs of the artificial gas release experiments in fields and the best model simulation to produce realistic leakage scenarios in marine ecosystems. Based on our analysis, we suggest that proper incorporation of biological aspects will provide successful and robust long-term monitoring strategies with earlier detection of gas leakage, thus reducing the risks associated with offshore CCS.