Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Southern Ocean Carbon Sink Weakened

Date:
May 19, 2007
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
An international research team has found that the Southern Ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide has been reduced by around 35 percent since 1981.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Baseline Air Pollution Station at Cape Grim, north-west Tasmania.
Credit: Image courtesy of CSIRO Australia

Scientists have observed the first evidence that the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb the major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, has weakened by about 15 per cent per decade since 1981.

Related Articles


In research published in Science, an international research team – including CSIRO’s Dr Ray Langenfelds – concludes that the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink has weakened over the past 25 years and will be less efficient in the future. Such weakening of one of the Earth’s major carbon dioxide sinks will lead to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the long-term.

Dr Paul Fraser, who leads research into atmospheric greenhouse gases at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, says the international team’s four-year study concludes that the weakening is due to human activities.

“The researchers found that the Southern Ocean is becoming less efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide due to an increase in wind strength over the Ocean, resulting from human-induced climate change,” Dr Fraser says.

“The increase in wind strength is due to a combination of higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and long-term ozone depletion in the stratosphere, which previous CSIRO research has shown intensifies storms over the Southern Ocean.”

The increased winds influence the processes of mixing and upwelling in the ocean, which in turn cause an increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reducing the net absorption of carbon dioxide into the ocean.

“Combined, the Earth’s land and ocean sinks absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from human activities,” Dr Fraser says. “The Southern Ocean takes up 15 per cent of these emissions, hence a reduction in its efficiency will have serious implications for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over coming decades.”

Dr Fraser points to one piece of good news: that ozone levels in the stratosphere have stopped declining and should recover slowly in coming decades. “Thus the impact of ozone depletion on the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink will lessen in the future, but the impact of increasing levels of greenhouse gases will continue unabated.”

The international team comprised researchers from CSIRO in Australia, the Max-Planck Institute in Germany, the University of East Anglia and British Antarctic Survey in England, the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory in the US, NIWA in New Zealand, the South African Weather Service, LSCE/IPSL and CNRS in France, and the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies in Japan.

The team used observations from 40 stations around the world, including Cape Grim in north-west Tasmania. The Cape Grim station, operated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, monitors and studies changes in global atmospheric composition in a program led by CSIRO and the Bureau.

Meanwhile, research to increase understanding and improve management of the oceans will increase following the announcement today by WA Premier, the Hon Alan Carpenter. The Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) is a new $A21 million, five-year research collaboration focussing on the marine environment to Australia’s west.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Southern Ocean Carbon Sink Weakened." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070517142558.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2007, May 19). Southern Ocean Carbon Sink Weakened. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070517142558.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Southern Ocean Carbon Sink Weakened." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070517142558.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins