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Study shows North Atlantic Ocean CO2 storage doubled over last decade

Findings by Rosenstiel School researchers have important implications for ocean life

Date:
February 2, 2016
Source:
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Summary:
A new study shows that the North Atlantic absorbed 50 percent more human-made carbon dioxide over the last decade, compared to the previous decade. The findings show the impact that the burning of fossil fuels have had on the world's oceans in just 10 years.
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Increases in anthropogenic CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean between 2003 and 2014.
Credit: Ryan Woosley, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

A University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-led study shows that the North Atlantic absorbed 50 percent more human-made carbon dioxide over the last decade, compared to the previous decade. The findings show the impact that the burning of fossil fuels have had on the world's oceans in just 10 years.

To determine the total uptake and storage of carbon dioxide in the North Atlantic over the last several decades, researchers analyzed data collected from the same locations, but 10 years apart, to identify changes caused by human-made CO2. The data were collected during two National Science Foundation-funded international ship-based studies, CLIVAR (Climate Variability CO2 Repeat Hydrography) and GO-SHIP (Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program).

"This study shows the large impact all of us are having on the environment and that our use of fossil fuels isn't only causing the climate to change, but also affects the oceans by decreasing the pH," said Ryan Woosley, a researcher in the UM Rosenstiel School, Department of Ocean Sciences.

The oceans help to slow the growth of human produced CO2 in the atmosphere by absorbing and storing about a quarter of the total carbon dioxide emissions. The North Atlantic is an area of high uptake and storage due to large-scale ocean circulations.

The uptake of CO2 has many impacts on ocean-dwelling organisms by decreasing the pH. The findings have important implications for marine organisms, such as corals and mollusks, which require a certain pH level in the surrounding water to build their calcium carbonate-based shells and exoskeletons.

The researchers hope to return in another 10 years to determine if the increase in carbon uptake continues, or if, as many fear, it will decrease as a result of slowing thermohaline circulation.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ryan J. Woosley, Frank J. Millero, Rik Wanninkhof. Rapid Anthropogenic Changes in CO2and pH in the Atlantic Ocean: 2003-2014. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005248

Cite This Page:

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Study shows North Atlantic Ocean CO2 storage doubled over last decade: Findings by Rosenstiel School researchers have important implications for ocean life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202185459.htm>.
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. (2016, February 2). Study shows North Atlantic Ocean CO2 storage doubled over last decade: Findings by Rosenstiel School researchers have important implications for ocean life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202185459.htm
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "Study shows North Atlantic Ocean CO2 storage doubled over last decade: Findings by Rosenstiel School researchers have important implications for ocean life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202185459.htm (accessed August 27, 2016).