Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking
Just had enough, thanks
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. ®
Ah, now we're getting there!
Thanks, Steven, for your last post. It does indeed seem we hold more in agreement than was at first apparent. One of my concerns is that too little is being done to prepare for rapid change, and too many empty promises being made by politicians about cutting emissions by 2020 or whenever (which will never happen).
The state of the GW 'debate' is rather sad, and I'm disappointed in much on both sides. I will confess now that I'm not a scientist, but in large measure this GW business is about politics and how we organise ourselves globally, which concerns us all. If there is a flaw in the 'warmers' side of the debate it lies not in wrangles over scentific specifics - CO2 absorption patterns and the rest - since it is implausible that so many professional scientists would make so many small errors at the same time, but in the broader question of social dynamics, of which funding is a large part.
Is the AGW movement a case of 'snowballing' (to pick an ironic term)? It wouldn't be the first mass hysteria of the modern age. Yet it has enough weight behind it to persuade me at present to go along with its interpretation of current climate change. Not enough credibility to make me committed, however.
Thanks for an interesting exchange. I'll follow up your link on global avarage temperature. Enjoy your retirement!
First off, thanks for calling me a "skeptic" as opposed to a "denier" (that word has acquired some ugly connotations).
If memory serves, ExxonMobil has given about $16 Million US in the last 10 years to various groups/individuals. In that time, the US government has spent something like $15 BILLION US on climate research -- most all of those funds going to people who have a lot more in common with Hansen & Mann than they do with Carter & Gray (please correct those numbers if I'm in error). Then there is the enormous amount in contributions from/to groups such as Pew, Sierra Club, WorldWatch, Greenpeace, etc, all of which goes to promote the concept of AGW.
Is ExxonMobil simply getting more bang for their buck, or is their argument more compelling?
It may surprise you to know that I agree that mitgation strategies need to be developed. People should not build in flood zones, for example. Nor should they build along coastlines subject to erosion -- erosion caused by sea levels which have been rising since the end of the last Ice Age. Nor should people live in cities located below sea level (it is a true "environmental tragedy" that the effects of Katrina could have been negligible had environmental groups not prevented the Corps from improving flood control projects 10 years ago).
But, ethanol subsidies? Cap and Trade? These are enormous wealth transfers which would do little -- if anything positive. It's no surprise that Enron was in favor of Cap & Trade, for they saw the profit potential -- as have several other energy companies, ExxonMobil included.
How about mandating the use of CFL's? Well, lights are used during off-peak times, which means that there would be little reduction in CO2 production -- those generators have to keep running, after all. Further, who is making the CFL's? The Chinese. And they'll keep burning low-grade coal in unscrubbed power plants to make the CFL's.
You don't say where you live, so I won't be able to follow your weather to see if the "Early Warning" bears out. I've noticed that a lot of these are more hyperbole that hypothesis (Remember the record hurricane season from last year?). Two years ago, we in the Pacific Northwest were warned of possible summer brownouts because the snowpack in the Cascades was below normal. This was in spite of the fact that the dams which supply most of the power here are on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, which get their water from the Rockies -- which had almost record snowpack. There were no brownouts.
By the way, I earlier alluded to the difficulty in determining "Global Temperature". An interesting related thread has opened on ClimateAudit:
This may be my last post. I don't know how much longer el Reg will keep it open, and the coming week appears to be full. I'm taking early retirement on June 1, and my boss left last week to take another job -- leaving me with a pile of projects to complete.
I hope the above has softened some of your disappointment in me.
Agreeing and disagreeing while Rome burns
I did not get any of my information from RealClimate. I only suggested reading an article of theirs about the accuracy of modelling in response to your question.
I would have more respect for responses which involved attempts at addressing facts and providing argument in support of a case than with mere snide remarks. Disappointing.
My 'ad hominem' applied to my response to the Carter article only. When sceptics claim (no point in saying 'argue') that the IPCC scientists are living off a government gravy train it's valid to point out that ExxonMobil (in one of its noms de plume) lies behind most of the sceptics' organisations.
Meanwhile, an unusually early "very hot weather" warning has been issued here and our climate everywhere continues to behave waywardly. Somewhere at the beginning of the Carter article he says a proper response to natural disasters is to prepare and provide rescue (or something like that). Had he been serious about that he would have returned to that idea, having "disposed" of the great GW "scam", but he doesn't because he isn't, and neither are you.
At the very least we should be taking seriously the probable consequences of certain global warming (rising sea-levels, water-shortage from melted glaciers and desertification, etc) as well as seeking to reduce known factors behind that warming. Sceptics like yourself make even that much preparation harder to enact.