Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans

Date:
June 8, 2014
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world's oceans, fueling further climate change, a study suggests. Scientists studied a 26,000-year-old sediment core to find out how the ocean's ability to take up atmospheric CO2 has changed over time, and found that when silicon was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with relatively warm climates, low levels of atmospheric iron, and reduced CO2 uptake by the oceans' plankton.

"If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment," says Dr Laetitia Pichevin, School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh.
Credit: Alekss / Fotolia

Rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world's oceans, fuelling further climate change, a study suggests.

Fresh insight into how the oceans can affect CO2 levels in the atmosphere shows that rising temperatures can indirectly increase the amount of the greenhouse gas emitted by the oceans.

Scientists studied a 26,000-year-old sediment core taken from the Gulf of California to find out how the ocean's ability to take up atmospheric CO2 has changed over time.

They tracked the abundance of the key elements silicon and iron in the fossils of tiny marine organisms, known as plankton, in the sediment core. Plankton absorb CO2 from the atmosphere at the ocean surface, and can lock away vast quantities of carbon.

Researchers found that those periods when silicon was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with relatively warm climates, low levels of atmospheric iron, and reduced CO2 uptake by the oceans' plankton. Scientists had suspected that iron might have a role in enabling plankton to absorb CO2. However, this latest study shows that a lack of iron at the ocean surface can limit the effect of other key elements in helping plankton take up carbon.

This effect is magnified in the southern ocean and equatorial Pacific and coastal areas, which are known to play a crucial role in influencing levels of CO2 in the global atmosphere.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say their findings are the first to pinpoint the complex link between iron and other key marine elements involved in regulating atmospheric CO2 by the oceans. Their findings were verified with a global calculation for all oceans. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, was supported by Scottish Alliance for Geoscience Environment Society and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Laetitia Pichevin, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: "Iron is known to be a key nutrient for plankton, but we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. E. Pichevin, R. S. Ganeshram, W. Geibert, R. Thunell, R. Hinton. Silica burial enhanced by iron limitation in oceanic upwelling margins. Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2181

Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140608152726.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2014, June 8). Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140608152726.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140608152726.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
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