Feeds

Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking

Just had enough, thanks

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The Southern Ocean, one of the planet's biggest carbon sinks, is almost totally saturated, according to research published in the journal Science.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) joined forces with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Max Planck institute for a four year study of the ocean around the southern continent. They found that increased winds over the Southern Ocean has triggered a release of stored CO2.

The researchers say the increase in wind in the region has been triggered by ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emission.

"This is the first time that we've been able to say that climate change itself is responsible for the saturation of the Southern Ocean sink," said lead author Dr Corinne Le Quéré of UEA and BAS.

"The Earth's carbon sinks – of which the Southern Ocean accounts for 15 per cent – absorb about half of all human carbon emissions. With the Southern Ocean reaching its saturation point more CO2 will stay in our atmosphere," Le Quéré explained.

A carbon sink - be it a forest, ocean, methane crystals trapped in ice sheets, or a peat bog in Siberia - locks carbon out of the atmosphere so that it doesn't contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Since the industrial revolution, the Earth's oceans have absorbed as much as 500 gigatons of the carbon generated by human activity. Professor Chris Rapley, director of British Antarctic Survey described the possibility that the strongest of these oceanic sinks is weakening as "a cause for concern".

Most climate models predict that this kind of negative feedback will intensify this century, Le Quéré says.

As well as having implications for how easy it will be to stabilise the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, the research also suggests the Southern Ocean will reach dangerous levels of acidity sooner than expected: bad news for local marine life. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.