can’t see the forest

British University: Oceans Soaking Up Less CO2

Posted in climate change, ecology, Environment, Global Warming, oceans, Science, UK news by Curtis on 10/21/07

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From the BBC News:

The amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the world’s oceans has reduced, scientists have said.

University of East Anglia researchers gauged CO2 absorption through more than 90,000 measurements from merchant ships equipped with automatic instruments.

Results of their 10-year study in the North Atlantic show CO2 uptake halved between the mid-90s and 2000 to 2005.

Scientists believe global warming might get worse if the oceans soak up less of the greenhouse gas.

Researchers said the findings, published in a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research, were surprising and worrying because there were grounds for believing that, in time, the ocean might become saturated with our emissions.

The world’s oceans, like the terrestrial biomes taken as a whole, provide an important carbon ‘sink’ through which atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are regulated. Algal blooms that feed on carbon dioxide are one of the main mechanisms through which the ocean participates in the carbon cycle, but, as far as we know, there is only so much that they can handle before saturation begins to occur.

Mounting evidence has suggested to many scientists that the ocean’s regulation of CO2 is a finely-tuned process capable of maintaining an equilibrium in all but the most extreme circumstances. The very real concern of these scientists is that, after over a century of virtually unfettered human industrial emissions, such an extreme circumstance may be here or presently on its way.


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