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Southern Ocean absorbs high carbon dioxide to stabilize global warming


The Southern Ocean, encircling Antarctica is absorbing increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the air, and acts as the Earth’s natural carbon sink. Researchers found that the strong carbon sink, helping lower the effects of global warming at the moment.southern-ocean-carbon-sink

Earlier, researchers believed that the ocean had stopped absorbing carbon dioxide, but new data has revealed that it has revived its effort to soak up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If the oceans had stopped or slowed their intake of CO2, it could have resulted in increased global warming, and more CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean is able to absorb a quarter of emissions caused by human activities, thereby reducing the speed of climate change.

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“Despite this remarkable increase in the Southern Ocean carbon sink, emissions have gone up even more,” said Prof Nicolas Gruber, lead author and environmental physicist.

According to the report published in journal Science, the ocean regained its former strength in 2012, after increasing global warming levels. The international team analyzed levels of CO2 in surface waters over a 30-year period from 1982, and this was compared with the atmospheric CO2 measurements and satellite observations. Gruber said that the latest report did not contradict the findings of the earlier study, but their conclusions were argued as it was dependent on models, rather than observations.

Co-author Dorothee Bakker from the University of East Anglia said that the seas around Antarctica absorb significantly more CO2 than they release. Increasing levels of CO2 is slowly acidifying the world’s oceans, affecting marine animals. Acidification is believed to disrupt shellfishes’ ability to grow their protective shells.

Toby Tyrell, professor in earth system science at the University of Southampton said the extra carbon is unlikely to pose a large threat to life through ocean acidification. Most of the carbon taken up in the Southern Ocean is transported shortly after to the deep ocean, where fewer organisms live, he added.

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