ARL News

Midwest Carbon Sequestration – A Zero Sum Game?


November 18, 2004

Starting in the mid 1990s, ARL’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division has maintained a modern surface flux measuring system at a research monitoring site in Bondville, Illinois (near Champaign/Urbana). The work is in collaboration with scientists of the Illinois State Water Survey. Among the quantities being measured is the rate of exchange of carbon dioxide between the air and the surface. The area is representative of the no-till maize/soybean agriculture of much of the central USA. Data collected over three maize/soybean rotational cycles have now been analyzed, with results that could have considerable impact. The data indicate that the maize/soybean crops of the midwest do indeed constitute a sizeable sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, but that almost all of this is captured in the grains that are then consumed. Consumption of this grain normally occurs within a year after harvest. In essence theCO2 is removed from the atmosphere in the Midwest and is soon afterwards returned to the atmosphere where the grain is consumed. Only about 19% of this consumption occurs in the region where the grains are actually grown.

Contact information: Tilden P Meyers
Phone: (865) 576-1245