The ocean carbon sink is saturating
After 10 years and more than 90,000 ship-based measurements of CO2 absorption, University of East Anglia researchers reached this stunning conclusion:
CO2 uptake halved between the mid-90s and 2000 to 2005.
The BBC writes: “Scientists believe global warming might get worse if the oceans soak up less of the greenhouse gas.”
Sigh. Note to the BBC, you don’t need a double hedge: If you’re going to just say “might get worse” you surely can drop “Scientists believe.” Frankly I doubt you can find many, if any, reputable scientists — or even the few remaining deniers — who would say that if the ocean sink saturates, global warming won’t get worse. I would probably phrase it this way: Global warming will accelerate if the oceans soak up less of the greenhouse gas.
The researchers say, “it is a tremendous surprise and very worrying because there were grounds for believing that in time the ocean might become ‘saturated’ with our emissions — unable to soak up any more.”
Why is that bad news?
Of all the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, only half of it stays there; the rest goes into carbon sinks.
There are two major natural carbon sinks: the oceans and the land “biosphere.” They are equivalent in size, each absorbing a quarter of all CO2 emissions.
If the oceans stop taking up CO2, the atmosphere will inevitably take up more, accelerating global warming.
One question to readers: the BBC says this work is “published in a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research.” I can’t find the paper online. If anyone finds a link, please send it to me, and I’ll excerpt and post it.
- Are scientists overestimating — or underestimating — climate change? Part I
- Are scientists overestimating — or underestimating — climate change? Part II
- Are scientists overestimating — or underestimating — climate change? Part III