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Rapid rise in global warming is forecast

Times Online – May 18, 2007

The oceans are the biggest sink of carbon dioxide.  The ability for them to absorb CO2 is a topic that is discussed often in the scientific periodicals.

This article covers a scientific study which concludes that the oceans are slowing down in the absorption of CO2 gas. This is a danger as CO2 is one of the greenhouse gases and if its concentration increases too dramatically there could be more heat captured into the atmosphere, increasing the temperature of the globe.

The oceans are losing the capacity to soak up rising man-made carbon emissions, which is increasing the rate of global warming by up to 30 per cent, scientists said


The reduced ability to absorb carbon is thought to be a result of high winds acting on ocean currents bringing deeper waters that already contain high levels of carbon to the surface. The higher winds are themselves believed to have been caused by climate change due to a combination of changes in the ozone layer and carbon emissions.


Ian Totterdell, a climate modeller at the Met Office Hadley Centre, described the research as ?an important piece of work?.  He said: ?This is the first time we have been able to get convincing evidence that a change in the uptake of CO2 by the oceans is linked to climate change.  ?It?s one of many feedbacks we didn?t expect to kick in until some way into the 21st century.?


The Southern Ocean is the world?s biggest marine carbon sink and accounts for 15 per cent of all the carbon taken out of the atmosphere.


The net quantity of carbon dioxide absorbed by the Southern Ocean remained at 0.3 billion tonnes a year from 1981 to 2004, according to calculations by the research team.


The researchers accepted there were limits to the data available from the Southern Ocean and that ?the magnitude of the CO2 sink is heavily disputed?. Professor Chris Rapley, director of BAS, said uncertainties remained, but the findings were ?a serious concern?.

You can read the rest of this excellent article here.

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