- Press Release Distribution

Trials will investigate if rock dust can combat climate crisis

Enhanced Rock Weathering could absorb and lock up large amounts of CO2, plus boost crop yield

Trials will investigate if rock dust can combat climate crisis
( Scientists at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) are trialling an innovative approach to mitigating climate change and boosting crop yield in mid-Wales. Adding crushed rock dust to farmland has the potential to remove and lock up large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In the first trial of Enhanced Rock Weathering on upland grasslands in the world, UKCEH scientists have applied 56 tonnes of finely ground basalt rock from quarries to three hectares of farmland in Plynlimon, Powys, this month and are repeating this at the same time next year.

The basalt rock dust particles, which are less than 2mm in size, absorb and store carbon at faster rates than occur with the breaking down, or weathering of the naturally occurring rocks at the sites, reducing the timescale from decades to just months (see Notes).

As part of the project, similar trials are also being carried out at lowland grassland in North Wyke, Devon, and arable cropland in Harpenden, which are field sites owned by Rothamsted Research, as part of a wider UK study funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The project is led by Professor David Beerling of the University of Sheffield, who estimates that Enhanced Rock Weathering could remove up to two billion tonnes of CO2 a year from the atmosphere globally by 2050. This would include up to 30 million tonnes in the UK – around 30 per cent of annual greenhouse gas removal (GGR) targets* as part of national net zero plans.

While other studies from around the world suggest Enhanced Rock Weathering could be very effective in removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, there have been no large-scale trials in the UK for our specific land use and soil systems.

Professor Bridget Emmett, Head of Soils and Land Use at UKCEH, says: “Enhanced Rock Weathering offers multiple potential wins. Rock dust could play a key role in meeting net zero and Paris Agreement targets. Meanwhile, the resulting chemical changes in the soil can also aid crop and grass production.

Critically, the project includes a whole system assessment of emissions linked to the supply and transport of the rock dust from quarries around the UK, to identifying the potential unintended environmental impacts such as changes in freshwater biodiversity.”

Dr Alan Radbourne of UKCEH, who is managing the Plynlimon trials, says: “We hope to understand more of the scale and possible trade-offs this technology might have in the real world. However, the magnitude of climate crisis means that it will be just part of the broad mix of nature-based and engineered solutions needed to accelerate greenhouse gas removal. It is also important to remember we need to significantly reduce our emissions in the first place.”

UKCEH, which has been researching biogeochemical and hydrological processes in the Plynlimon catchments since the 1960s, has set up greenhouse gas flux chambers on the fields to measure how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are captured from the atmosphere. Our scientists will also monitor the amount of carbon stored in soil and transferred to the river, as well as other impacts on biodiversity, grass production and overall water quality. Time-lapse cameras are being used to monitor sheep grazing patterns in the catchment to see if changes in the forage quality will draw more sheep to the area.

For more information on the Plynlimon trials, visit the UKCEH project page.


Media enquiries

Photographs and a video of the spreading of rock dust in Plynlimon are available. For interviews and further information, contact Simon Williams, Media Relations Officer, via or call 07920 295384.

Notes to Editors

The Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) demonstrator project involves partners including the University of Sheffield, UKCEH, Rothamsted Research and the National Oceanographic Centre. It is part of the GGR CO2RE programme, a multi-disciplinary, multi-centre national research hub on Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) funded by UKRI via the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

There are two possible ways to store the carbon removed by the crushed rock. Both begin with CO2 in rainwater reacting with chemical elements in the rock dust to create soluble compounds in the soil called carbonates. Depending on local hydrology and soil characteristics, the carbonates will either form carbon-rich minerals and be stored in the soil itself or will be transported through drainage waters and rivers before ultimately being deposited and stored in ocean sediments. The process of rocks breaking down resulting in carbonate formation, transport and storage is commonly called soil weathering.

Natural weathering in Wales is a slow process because our rocks do not have minerals which are so effective at capturing carbon. Adding basalt rock dust has the potential to enhance this slow natural process.

*In its Balanced Net Zero Pathway of its Sixth Carbon Budget, the Climate Change Committee estimated a total of 97 million tonnes of CO2 year, from engineered and land-based solutions, would be required to be removed from the atmosphere by 2050 as part of the UK’s net zero target. A report by Element Energy and UKCEH, commissioned by BEIS, produced a range of combinations of GGR methods that could remove 110 million tonnes a year.

About the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH)

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is a world-leading centre for excellence in environmental sciences across water, land and air. The Centre has a long history of investigating, monitoring and modelling environmental change. Its 600 scientists provide the data and insights that researchers, governments and businesses need to create a productive, resilient and healthy environment.

UKCEH undertakes long-term national surveys of both natural and managed environments, focusing on carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. We make a major contribution to the UK national and international greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and we improve understanding of the role that land use has on emissions. We are contributing to the development of peatland and saltmarsh carbon codes – voluntary certification standards, enabling peatland and saltmarsh carbon to be marketed and purchased by private investors – thereby providing an income stream for the achievement of national net zero goals.

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is a strategic delivery partner for the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation. / @UK_CEH /  LinkedIn: UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology






[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Trials will investigate if rock dust can combat climate crisis


Women with a first normal weight offspring and a small second offspring have increased risk of cardiovascular mortality

Women with a first normal weight offspring and a small second offspring have increased risk of cardiovascular mortality
A new study from the University of Bergen reveals that including offspring birthweight information from women’s subsequent births, is helpful in identifying a woman's long-term risk of dying from cardiovascular causes.  Knowledge of the association between offspring birthweight and long-term maternal cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality is often based on first-born infants without considering women’s consecutive births. “These possible relations are also less closely studied among women with term deliveries”, ...

ENDO 2023 press conferences to highlight emerging technology and diabetes research

CHICAGO—Researchers will delve into the latest research in diabetes, obesity, reproductive health and other aspects of endocrinology during the Endocrine Society’s ENDO 2023 news conferences June 15-18. The Society also will share its Hormones and Aging Scientific Statement publicly for the first time during a news conference on Friday, June 16. Reporters will have an opportunity to hear from members of the writing group that drafted the statement on the research landscape. Other press conferences will feature select abstracts that are being presented at ENDO 2023, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting. The event is being held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. ...

New tool may help spot “invisible” brain damage in college athletes

An artificial intelligence computer program that processes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can accurately identify changes in brain structure that result from repeated head injury, a new study in student athletes shows. These variations have not been captured by other traditional medical images such as computerized tomography (CT) scans. The new technology, researchers say, may help design new diagnostic tools to better understand subtle brain injuries that accumulate over time. Experts have long known about potential risks of concussion among young athletes, particularly for those who play high-contact sports such as football, hockey, and soccer. Evidence is now mounting ...

The next generation of solar energy collectors could be rocks

The next generation of solar energy collectors could be rocks
The next generation of sustainable energy technology might be built from some low-tech materials: rocks and the sun. Using a new approach known as concentrated solar power, heat from the sun is stored then used to dry foods or create electricity. A team reporting in ACS Omega has found that certain soapstone and granite samples from Tanzania are well suited for storing this solar heat, featuring high energy densities and stability even at high temperatures. Energy is often stored in large batteries when not needed, but these can be expensive and require lots of resources to manufacture. A lower-tech alternative ...

Hidden in plain sight: Windshield washer fluid is an unexpected emission source

Exhaust fumes probably come to mind when considering vehicle emissions, but they aren’t the only source of pollutants released by a daily commute. In a recent ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology study, researchers report that alcohols in windshield washer fluid account for a larger fraction of real-world vehicle emissions than previous estimates have suggested. Notably, the levels of these non-fuel-derived gases will likely remain unchanged, even as more drivers transition from gas-powered ...

Humans evolved to walk with an extra spring in our step

A new study has shown that humans may have evolved a spring-like arch to help us walk on two feet. Researchers studying the evolution of bipedal walking have long assumed that the raised arch of the foot helps us walk by acting as a lever which propels the body forward. But a global team of scientists have now found that the recoil of the flexible arch repositions the ankle upright for more effective walking. The effects in running are greater, which suggests that the ability to run efficiently could have been a selective pressure for a flexible arch that made walking more efficient too. This discovery could even help doctors improve ...

Bile acid receptor could be innovative target in protecting the vision of premature newborns

Bile acid receptor could be innovative target in protecting the vision of premature newborns
AUGUSTA, Ga. (May 30, 2023) – It sounds like bile acid in the eye would hurt, but scientists think stimulating one of its receptors can actually help protect the vision of premature newborns. It’s called the farnesoid-X-receptor, or FXR, a bile acid receptor whose expression is significantly diminished in two key cell types affected by retinopathy of prematurity. Medical College of Georgia scientists have early evidence that targeting that receptor could provide earlier, more impactful treatments for these babies, a process that could be expedited by the fact that the drugs they ...

Study finds similar quality and cost of care for patients treated by an allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) physician

1. Study finds similar quality and cost of care for patients treated by an allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) physician Abstract: Editorial: URL goes live when the embargo lifts An observational study of more than 329,000 Medicare admissions found that older persons receiving hospital care from an allopathic (M.D.) or an osteopathic (D.O.) physician experience similar quality and cost of care. The findings are published in Annals ...

UCLA-led research suggests no difference in health outcomes, care costs for patients treated by traditional MDs or osteopaths

New UCLA-led research suggests that patient mortality rates, readmissions, length of stay, and health care spending were virtually identical for elderly hospitalized patients who were treated by physicians with Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degrees. While both traditional, or allopathic, medical schools and osteopathic medical schools provide the same rigorous health education, osteopathic training adds a more holistic, hands-on component involving manipulation of the musculoskeletal system – for ...

Low-flavanol diet drives age-related memory loss, large study finds

May 29, 2023--A large-scale study led by researchers at Columbia and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard is the first to establish that a diet low in flavanols—nutrients found in certain fruits and vegetables—drives age-related memory loss. The study found that flavanol intake among older adults tracks with scores on tests designed to detect memory loss due to normal aging and that replenishing these bioactive dietary components in mildly flavanol-deficient adults over age 60 improves performance on these tests. “The improvement among study participants with low-flavanol diets was substantial and ...


Bioinformatics approach could help optimize soldiers’ training for improved readiness and recovery

Earth scientists describe a new kind of volcanic eruption

Warmer wetter climate predicted to bring societal and ecological impact to the Tibetan Plateau

Feeding infants peanut products protects against allergy into adolescence

Who will like beetle skewers? What Europeans think about alternative protein food

ETRI wins ‘iF Design Award’ for mobile collaborative robot

Combating carbon footprint: novel reactor system converts carbon dioxide into usable fuel

Investigating the origin of circatidal rhythms in freshwater snails

Altering cellular interactions around amyloid plaques may offer novel Alzheimer’s treatment strategies

Brain damage reveals part of the brain necessary for helping others

Surprising properties of elastic turbulence discovered

Study assesses cancer-related care at US hospitals predominantly serving minority populations compared with non-minority serving hospitals

First in-human investigator-initiated clinical trial to launch for refractory prostate cancer patients: Novel alpha therapy targets prostate-specific membrane antigen

Will generative AI change the way universities communicate?

Artificial Intelligence could help cure loneliness, says expert

Echidnapus identified from an ‘Age of Monotremes’

Semaglutide may protect kidney function in individuals with overweight or obesity and cardiovascular disease

New technique detects novel biomarkers for kidney diseases with nephrotic syndrome

Political elites take advantage of anti-partisan protests to disrupt politics

Tiny target discovered on RNA to short-circuit inflammation, UC Santa Cruz researchers find

Charge your laptop in a minute? Supercapacitors can help; new research offers clues

Scientists discover CO2 and CO ices in outskirts of solar system

Theory and experiment combine to shine a new light on proton spin

PKMYT1, a potential ‘Achilles heel’ of treatment resistant ER+ breast cancers with the poorest prognosis

PH-binding motifs as a platform for drug design: Lessons from protease-activated receptors (PARs)

Virginia Tech researcher creates new tool to move tiny bioparticles

On repeat: Biologists observe recurring evolutionary changes, over time, in stick insects

Understanding a broken heart

Genetic cause of rare childhood immune disorders discovered

With wobbling stars, astronomers gauge mass of 126 exoplanets and find 15 new ones

[] Trials will investigate if rock dust can combat climate crisis
Enhanced Rock Weathering could absorb and lock up large amounts of CO2, plus boost crop yield