Monday, October 22, 2007

Oceans may be losing ability to absorb CO2

PARIS (AFP) - The world's oceans may be losing their ability to soak up extra carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, with the risk that this will help stoke global warming, two new studies say.

Absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the North Atlantic plunged by half between the mid-1990s and 2002-5, British researchers say in a paper published in the November issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The data comes from sensors lowered by a container ship carrying bananas, which makes a round trip from the West Indies to Britain every month. It has generated more than 90,000 measurements of ocean CO2.

The finding touches on a key aspect of the global warming question, because for decades the ocean has been absorbing much of the CO2 released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

If the sea performs less well as a carbon sponge, or "sink" according to the technical jargon, more CO2 will remain in the atmosphere, thus accelerating the greenhouse effect.

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: