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Polar ocean 'soaking up less CO2'

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, May 18, 2007.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Guest

    One of Earth's most important absorbers of carbon dioxide (CO2) is failing to soak up as much of the greenhouse gas as it was expected to, scientists say.

    The decline of Antarctica's Southern Ocean carbon "sink" - or reservoir - means that atmospheric CO2 levels may be higher in future than predicted.

    These carbon sinks are vital as they mop up excess CO2 from the atmosphere, slowing down global warming.

    The study, by an international team, is published in the journal Science.

    This effect had been predicted by climate scientists, and is taken into account - to some extent - by climate models. But it appears to be happening 40 years ahead of schedule.

    The data will help refine models of the Earth's climate, including those upon which the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are based.

    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.

    The Southern Ocean is thought to account for about 15% of all carbon sinks.

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