Feeds

Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking

Just had enough, thanks

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
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.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.