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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Sou­thern Oce­an is regai­ning strength as a CO₂ sink

Sin­ce 2002 the Sothern Oce­an takes up an incre­asing amount of the green­house gas CO₂ from the atmo­sphe­re. This is the result of two stu­dies recent­ly published in the jour­nals Sci­ence and Geo­phy­si­cal Rese­arch Let­ters.

The oce­ans are known as an important CO₂ sink. It is sug­gested that until now they remo­ved 25% of the human made amount of CO₂ from the atmo­sphe­re, mea­ning a signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­ti­on in slo­wing cli­ma­te chan­ge. The Sou­thern Oce­an (here: below the 35th par­al­lel south) is par­ti­cu­lar­ly pro­duc­ti­ve in this case. Alt­hough it covers only 26% of the ocea­nic sur­face it con­tri­bu­tes appro­xi­m­ate­ly 40% to the ocean´s CO₂ sink. In the 1990s stu­dies had sug­gested that this absor­bing capa­ci­ty of the sea around Ant­ar­c­ti­ca was wea­k­e­ning. A posi­ti­ve feed­back effect was dis­cus­sed: That it was glo­bal warm­ing its­elf which pro­vo­ked this wea­k­e­ning and ther­eby con­tri­bu­ted to its own acce­le­ra­ti­on.

Now, by ana­ly­zing long-term data from atmo­sphe­re and sur­face water of the Sou­thern Oce­an, the new, recent­ly published stu­dies show that the Ant­ar­c­tic Sea began to streng­then its CO₂ absor­bing capa­ci­ty again in 2002 and con­tin­ued to do so until at least 2012. The reasons for this chan­ge are still not clear. The­re is one sug­ges­ti­on, that in win­ter an incre­asing amount of deep­wa­ter is get­ting to the sur­face; water that didn´t have cont­act to the atmo­sphe­re for seve­ral hundreds of years. If the new streng­thening of the oce­ans CO₂ sink is again pro­vo­ked by glo­bal warm­ing, can­not be nega­ted. In this case at least the effect would be a wel­co­me one.

The Sou­thern Oce­an, an important CO sink-Sen­ke


Source: Ame­ri­can Geo­phy­si­cal Uni­on, Sci­ence


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