Southern ocean can’t absorb any more CO2

Much of the  carbon dioxide we have been generating the past hundred years has been removed from the atmosphere by the oceans.  Turns out we can’t rely on that:


The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is so loaded with carbon dioxide that it can barely absorb any more, so more of the gas will stay in the atmosphere to warm up the planet, scientists reported Thursday.

Human activity is the main culprit, said researcher Corinne Le Quere, who called the finding very alarming.

The phenomenon wasn’t expected to be apparent for decades, Le Quere said in a telephone interview from the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so,” she said. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. “So I find this really quite alarming.”

The Southern Ocean is one of the world’s biggest reservoirs of carbon, known as a carbon sink. When carbon is in a sink — whether it’s an ocean or a forest, both of which can lock up carbon dioxide — it stays out of the atmosphere and does not contribute to global warming.

And the laws of physical chemistry tell us that as temperature rises in a liquid, its ability to hold on to gases diminishes; in other words, as the oceans warm, they will tend to release carbon dioxide.


1 Comment

Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, global warming/environment, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, Outdoors, Politics

One response to “Southern ocean can’t absorb any more CO2

  1. Mike A

    Give me a break. This is just more “junk science” where a supposed scientist can make an outlandish claim like “Human activity is the main culprit” without any supporting evidence whatsoever. Sunspot activity has increased since the last ice age. I should also point out that during the Mesozoic era the earth was once much hotter than it is today, and there was no “Human activity” to be the culprit. Shortly after the Mesozoic era (geographically speaking) the earth became much colder in the Cenozoic era (ice age). Then, lo and behold, the earth warmed again and the glaciers melted.

    Let’s face it folks, our planet is dynamic, it heats and cools, now we are heating again; and there is no real scientific evidence showing that it has anything to do with humans. This doesn’t mean that the glaciers may not melt, or that we may not have coastal flooding (although a lot more real science is necessary before we can even say that). However, climate change is natural and we will just have to deal with it. Many of our current oceans may become deserts and many of our current deserts may now become oceans again. Instead of wasting time and money on the “junk science” of human induced greenhouse effect, we should be dedicating our resources to unbiased (and un-politicized) scientific study and constructing ways to adapt our current cites, coastlines, etc to the coming geographical changes.

    One last thing, the Martian atmosphere is mostly CO2, but they have ice caps; so if CO2 causes such marked global warming then why didn’t the ice caps on Mars melt a long time ago? Also, the ice caps on mars are now showing signs of receding (just like the ones on earth), but there are no humans on Mars to cause this phenomenon; which supports evidence that is it the increased Sun activity and not greenhouse gases that is causing our own glaciers to melt.

    Also, last November, according to the Wall Street Journal; Congress voted to cut funding for any scientific studies on the climate that did not support the Greenhouse Effect theory. If they’re so sure that this is happening why are they so afraid that real science may disprove it?

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