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    Global Ocean Absorbing More Carbon

    Researchers find a fourfold increase of carbon dioxide absorption in the ocean since the last global survey in 1994.

    Global Ocean Absorbing More Carbon

    Global Ocean Absorbing More Carbon Scientists see fourfold increase in ocean's annual carbon uptake

    Courtesy of NOAA

    This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science.

    The global ocean absorbed 34 billion metric tons of carbon from the burning of fossil fuels from 1994 to 2007—a fourfold increase of 2.6 billion metric tons per year when compared to the period starting from the Industrial Revolution in 1800 to 1994.

    Though the volume of carbon dioxide going into the ocean is increasing, the percentage of emissions—about 31 percent—absorbed by it has remained relatively stable

    The new research published by NOAA and international partners in Science finds as carbon dioxide emissions have increased in the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed a greater volume of emissions. Though the volume of carbon dioxide going into the ocean is increasing, the percentage of emissions—about 31 percent—absorbed by it has remained relatively stable when compared to the first survey of carbon in the global ocean published in 2004.

    Ocean Uptake Reduces Warming, But Comes with Downside

    By absorbing increased carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the ocean reduces the warming impact of these emissions were they to remain in the atmosphere. However, carbon dioxide dissolved into the ocean causes seawater to acidify, threatening the ability of shellfish and corals to build their skeletons and affecting the health of other fish and marine species—many that are important to coastal economies and food security.

    “The increasing load of carbon dioxide in the ocean interior is already having an impact on the shellfish industry, particularly along the U.S. West Coast,” said Richard Feely of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, leader of NOAA’s West Coast acidification-observing network and a co-author of the study. “We have been working with the industry to provide an early warning system against the most severe impacts of rising carbon dioxide levels.”  

    Rik Wanninkhof, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and another co-author, added: “A critical question that warrants continued observations of the ocean is if this uptake can be sustained and what might happen to the Earth’s atmosphere if the ocean is unable to absorb continued increased carbon dioxide.”

    About the Research

    The new research was led by Nicolas Gruber of ETH Zurich in Switzerland and builds on a 2004 NOAA-led study that found that 118 billion metric tons of carbon were absorbed by the global ocean from the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1800 to 1994.

    The recent findings are based on an analysis of data taken by 50 research cruises that gathered more than 100,000 water samples

    The recent findings are based on an analysis of data taken by 50 research cruises that gathered more than 100,000 water samples, including cruises by NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown. Because these cruises do not occur annually, it takes years for data representing all ocean basins to be collected and thoroughly analyzed.

    Building on this extensive effort, NOAA has created an important international Ocean Carbon Data System database (OCADS) to help researchers monitor changes in ocean chemistry. The database is managed by Alex Kozyr, a co-author of the study, an NCEI scientist and affiliate of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

    Reference: Gruber, Nicolas, D. Clement, B. R. Carter, R. A. Feely, S. van Heuven, M. Hoppema, M. Ishii, R. M. Key, A. Kozyr, S. K. Lauvset, C. Lo Monaco, J. T. Mathis, A. Murata, A. Olsen, F. F. Perez, C. L. Sabine, T. Tanhua, R. Wanninkhof. The oceanic sink for anthropogenic CO2 from 1994 to 2007. Science 15 Mar 2019: Vol. 363, Issue 6432, pp. 1193-1199 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau5153

    PUBLISHED

    MARCH 15, 2019

    Related Links

    Ocean Carbon Data System (OCADS) Data and Documentation Files

    To Study Earth’s Climate, Look to Ocean

    Ocean Heat Reveals More About Climate

    Article Tags

    Greenhouse Gases Oceans Ecosystems

    Environmental Impacts

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    How much carbon does the ocean absorb?

    The world's oceans may be absorbing more carbon than previously thought, according to new research by Exeter University.

    The oceans are absorbing more carbon than previously thought

    The oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface.

    Image: REUTERS/Marco Garcia

    This article was originally published by

    Carbon Brief 01 Oct 2020 Dr Jamie Shutler

    Associate professor in earth observation, University of Exeter

    Prof Andy Watson

    Royal Society research professor , University of Exeter

    The oceans play a critical role in capturing CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Around 25% of all CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean, making it one of the world's largest 'carbon sinks'.

    However, new evidence suggests this figure could be even higher.

    The oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and play a crucial role in taking up CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Estimates suggest that around a quarter of CO2 emissions that human activity generates each year is absorbed by the oceans.

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    However, in our recent Nature Communications paper, we show that the ocean carbon “sink” could be even larger.

    We find that the very surface of the ocean tends to be markedly cooler than the water at a few metres depth, resulting in a substantially larger net uptake than previously thought.

    Our findings have implications for our accounting of the CO2 we are emitting – namely, where does the large fraction of CO2 that is taken up each year by “natural” sinks actually go?

    Net sink

    Each year, the Earth’s surface takes up billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. These natural carbon sinks – oceans, plants and soils – help to buffer the continued emissions from human activity.

    The ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere because, as the atmospheric concentration increases, more is dissolved in the surface water. This water may then mix down, or sink as it is cooled, into the deep sea where the absorbed CO2 can stay locked up for hundreds of years as it slowly moves through the deep interior ocean and back to the atmosphere.

    But the oceans have not always been a carbon sink.

    Before the industrial era, the ocean was actually a net source of CO2. However, the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, driven by human-caused emissions are forcing the ocean to now absorb this gas.

    While the ability of the ocean to capture and store carbon has helped to slow the accumulation of atmospheric CO2 – and, hence, the pace of global warming – it has come at a cost. Increasing CO2 in the ocean alters the chemistry of seawater – an effect known as ocean acidification – which has negative impacts on marine life.

    New observations

    Each year, the global carbon budget is assessed to track how well, or not, humanity is achieving any reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    This assessment involves calculating sources and sinks of CO2 across the world and determining the change in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    Estimating the ocean sink is clearly needed to complete this assessment, but its importance has a knock-on impact for other parts of the overall budget.

    The huge variations in land cover, vegetation, terrain and their year-to-year variations mean that it is currently very difficult to measure the total global land sink accurately. Solving this issue is complex and complicated. However, it can be estimated indirectly.

    Scientists can calculate the total human-caused emissions and observe how much of this CO2 stays in the atmosphere. The remainder must have been absorbed by either the land or the ocean. So a good estimate of the ocean sink also enables calculation of how much is being taken up by the vegetation on land. Put simply, the CO2 that goes missing that doesn’t go into the ocean, must go into the land.

    Nonetheless, quantifying the carbon absorbed by the vast oceans – whilst they are less variable when compared to the land – is still a complex problem. It requires measurements and observations from a range of sources including ships, buoys and even satellites.

    Thankfully, satellite measurements are now becoming much easier to access as European and international agreements have made these widely available to scientists.

    Such satellites have many uses, including ocean weather forecasting, so they are well maintained. The situation is a little different for measuring how much CO2 seawater contains, as these measurements are collected by researchers and then voluntarily collated into the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT).

    These – along with the other observations – form a critical part of our ability to determine the oceanic sink. Each year more than a million new measurements are added to SOCAT; a herculean effort involving scientists throughout the world.

    Oceanographers and chemists working together

    While previous estimates put the ocean sink at around 2bn tonnes of CO2 per year, we find that it could be 0.8-0.9bn tonnes larger. Over the whole 27-year study period of 1992-2018, this means the global oceans have taken up 67bn tonnes of CO2 rather than 43bn.

    This advance in knowledge resulted from us working closely with specialists in sea temperature, physical oceanography and satellites. They explained that satellite sensors measure the temperature at the very surface of the ocean and that vertical changes in temperature occur near the surface.

    Source : www.weforum.org

    How much carbon does the surface ocean absorb from the atmosphere each year?

    Answer (1 of 5): The oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and play a crucial role in taking up CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. An estimate suggests that around a quarter of CO2 emissions those human activities like industrialization, deforestation, burning fossil fuels, etc. Each yea...

    How much carbon does the surface ocean absorb from the atmosphere each year?

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    5 Answers Focomate

    , lives in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India (2021-present)

    Answered 7 months ago · Author has 80 answers and 31.4K answer views

    The oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and play a crucial role in taking up CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

    An estimate suggests that around a quarter of CO2 emissions those human activities like industrialization, deforestation, burning fossil fuels, etc.

    Each year, the Earth’s surface takes up billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. These natural carbon sinks – oceans, plants, and soils – help to buffer the continued emissions from human activity.

    The ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere because, as the atmospheric concentration increases, more is dissolved in the surface w

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    Gary Ahlers

    , Lapidary, HVAC Design, Astrophotographer, Constr'n (1975-present)

    Answered 1 year ago · Author has 3.7K answers and 775.6K answer views

    The world emission of Carbon (as CO2) is 36.81 billion tons. The oceans absorbed 9.2 billion tons in 12019.

    This raises the level of carbonic acid in the oceans

    As ocean temperatures rise, less CO2 can be absorbed as dissolved gas

    Phytoplankton (along with algae and bacteria, which converts 70% of the CO2 to O2 in the oceans has been reduced by 40% - die-off because of acid and temperature.

    Very little carbon is being sequestered. Most continues to be recycled through the CO2 - O2 cycle

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    According to the latest research the surface oceans of the world absorbs approximately 2.6 billion metric ton of carbon each year. This is around one third of the total carbon we humans produce by activities like industrialization, deforestation, burning fossil fuel etc.

    38 viewsAnswer requested by

    Partha Pratim Deb Cyril Deons Vithali , Senior Sub Editor

    Answered 7 months ago · Author has 683 answers and 186.9K answer views

    Surface water of the ocean absorb 90 Gigatons of carbon each year. Humans emit 60 Gigatons of carbon a year.

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    Viki Choudhury

    , BS in Chemistry from Rabindranath Tagore University (2021)

    Answered 7 months ago · Author has 1.6K answers and 389.1K answer views

    Absorption of CO2 by ocean surface accounts for approx.25% of the total of carbon sink, while previous estimates put the ocean sink at around 2bn tonnes of CO2 per year, well it could be 0.8-09bn tonnes larger.

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    How does CO2 get released from the ocean to the atmosphere?

    CO2 has a reverse solubility effect with temperature, so that as temperature rises, less CO2 is needed to achieve saturation.

    If CO2 absorption has reached its equilibrium saturation concentration at some air/water interface in the ocean, and the surface warms, CO2 will be released to the atmosphere. One point where this happens is at the seashore when the incoming tide washes over warmer sand and rocks. While some of the foam bubbles you might observe are due to organic constituents, part of the air in those bubbles is the devolved CO2.

    330 viewsView upvotes

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    Related Answer Greg Freemyer

    , A self described Luke Warmer that has been studying climate science since 2008

    Answered 3 years ago · Author has 2.7K answers and 3M answer views

    What do you think about the finding that oceans absorb Carbon Dioxide? Researchers say the oceans have absorbed about 31 percent of the carbon that humans are emitting into the atmosphere? Does it explains why global warming is slower than expected?

    Source : www.quora.com

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