Pipeline major Enbridge has officially announced the start of its carbon sequestration research at the world’s largest artificial reef, the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Reef in Texas.
The study was first announced earlier this year and will be conducted by non-profit organization Friends of RGV Reef together with the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
This new research is the first of its kind done anywhere in the world, according to Friends of RGV Reef President Gary Glick, as it is aimed at determining whether artificial reefs have the capacity to sequester and store CO2.
If successful, the results of the study may prove to be a gamechanger in the fight against climate change and will benefit not only Texas and the US, but all coastal nations globally.
The research supported by Enbridge will focus on quantifying the amount of carbon dioxide captured and stored by RGV Reef, including in the biomass (fish, microorganisms, sea urchins, etc.) in the water column, as well as the bottomland and sediment, both in and around the reef.
Scientists have been suspecting that artificial reefs have massive carbon storage potential, but, so far, no research has been made to either prove or disprove this hunch, which is what makes the study led by UTRGV in partnership with Friends of RGV Reef so critical.
The artificial reef was created by the same two partners in 2017, and since then it has attracted vast quantities of marine life, including millions of new fish and even endangered species of sea turtles, to the Texas Coast.
The reef is situated northeast of South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico, and was built mainly from intentionally sunken vessels, cinder blocks and concrete rail ties.
“Enbridge is supporting this important research in order quantify the biodiversity success of the reef effort to-date and, in doing so, better understand the carbon offset potential of reef structures. We believe the science and its findings will demonstrate the positive impact the reef effort has had on restoring critical marine life in our Gulf,” said Pete Sheffield, Enbridge’s Chief Sustainability Officer.