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Ocean carbon uptake widely underestimated

by University of Exeter, September5, 2020 in WUWT/Nature


The world’s oceans soak up more carbon than most scientific models suggest, according to new research.

Previous estimates of the movement of carbon (known as “flux”) between the atmosphere and oceans have not accounted for temperature differences at the water’s surface and a few metres below.

The new study, led by the University of Exeter, includes this – and finds significantly higher net flux of carbon into the oceans.

It calculates CO2 fluxes from 1992 to 2018, finding up to twice as much net flux in certain times and locations, compared to uncorrected models.

“Half of the carbon dioxide we emit doesn’t stay in the atmosphere but is taken up by the oceans and land vegetation ‘sinks’,” said Professor Andrew Watson, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute.

“Researchers have assembled a large database of near-surface carbon dioxide measurements – the “Surface Ocean Carbon Atlas” (http://www.socat.info) – that can be used to calculate the flux of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean.

“Previous studies that have done this have, however, ignored small temperature differences between the surface of the ocean and the depth of a few metres where the measurements are made.

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