CO2 uptake by the Southern Ocean

Summary by Steven van Heuven

Humanity emits large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere as the result of such processes as fossil fuel combustion, cement production and deforestation. A large fraction (30%-50%) of this emitted 'anthropogenic' CO2 (CO2ant) is taken up by the surface of the oceans, and transported to depth. The Southern Ocean is thought to play a key role in this process, although uncertainty exists about the rate of this uptake, the total amounts taken up so far, and the potential for future uptake. Quantification of these processes is of importance for the prediction of future climate change, for which atmospheric CO2 is the primary driver. The uptake of CO2ant by the ocean is not without risks to the aquatic environment either: acidification of surface waters is expected to affect shell formation in calcifying organisms and hence to influence the composition of ecosystems, with conceivably deleterious effects on primary productivity, biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g., reduced yield of fisheries).
This presentation aims to describe the chemical and physical background of some of these concepts, and will briefly introduce my own attempts to determine the rate of CO2 storage in the Deep Weddell Sea.

Click here for his powerpoint presentation.

Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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