Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected Growth In Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Date:
October 23, 2007
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000. The study found that inefficiency in the use of fossil fuels increased levels of carbon dioxide by 17 percent, while the other 18 percent came from the decline in the efficiency of natural land and ocean sinks which soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Southern ocean is cold and windy, which favors the exchange of CO2 with the atmosphere. At high latitudes (photo), a recent and persistent increase in winds have produced a saturation of the Southern Ocean sink for CO2.
Credit: N.Metzl, August 2000, oceanographic cruise OISO-5

A team of scientists has found that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000.

Lead author and Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, CSIRO’s Dr Pep Canadell, says the acceleration is due to three factors: global economic growth; the world’s economy becoming more carbon intense (that is, since 2000 more carbon is being emitted to produce each dollar of global wealth); and a deterioration in the land and oceans’ ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere at the required rate.

“What we are seeing is a decrease in the planet’s ability to absorb carbon emissions due to human activity,” Dr Canadell says.

“Fifty years ago, for every tonne of CO2 emitted, 600kg were removed by land and ocean sinks. However, in 2006, only 550kg were removed per tonne and that amount is falling.”

The study found that inefficiency in the use of fossil fuels increased levels of CO2 by 17 percent, while the other 18 percent came from the decline in the efficiency of natural land and ocean sinks which soak up CO2 from the atmosphere.

The research by the Global Carbon Project, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) shows that improvements in the carbon intensity of the global economy have stalled since 2000 after improving for 30 years, leading to the unexpected growth of atmospheric CO2.

The study also states that global CO2 emissions were up to 9.9 billion tons of carbon in 2006, 35 percent above emissions in 1990 (used as a reference year in the Kyoto Protocol).

Author Dr Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia and British Antarctic Survey says, "The decline in global sink efficiency suggests that stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 is even more difficult to achieve than previously thought. We found that nearly half of the decline in the efficiency of the ocean CO2 sink is due to the intensification of the winds in the Southern Ocean."

The study's lead author, Dr Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project, said: "In addition to the growth of global population and wealth, we now know that significant contributions to the growth of atmospheric CO2 arise from the slow-down of natural sinks and the halt to improvements in the carbon intensity of wealth production."

Reference: Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks by Josep Canadell, Corinne Le Quéré, Michael Raupach, Christopher Field, Erik Buitenhuis, Philippe Ciais, Thomas Conway, Nathan Gillett, RA Houghton and Gregg Marland is published on Monday October 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The authors analysed atmospheric CO2 observations and CO2 emissions data since 1959 and compared observed and projected trends.

The Southern Ocean winds have increased in response to greenhouse gases and ozone depletion. The increase in winds has led to a release of natural CO2 stored in the deep ocean, which is preventing further absorption of the greenhouse gas.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Unexpected Growth In Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071022171932.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2007, October 23). Unexpected Growth In Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071022171932.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Unexpected Growth In Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071022171932.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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