Ocean Carbon Sink - Concerns - Seeker's Thoughts

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Ocean Carbon Sink - Concerns


As we humans breathe out more carbon dioxide into the environment, the more ocean do hard wok do absorb it, it is helping us to buy more time to drive off the bad effect of climate change.

The industrial revolution started in the mid 18 century, it has been the main reason for the disruption of climate, the ocean has been always helpful to observe roughly 39% of all human emissions.


This phenomenon is called “Ocean Carbon Sink” which is driven by the difference between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and in the ocean.

According to the new research that suggests changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide level can strengthen or weaken the entire carbon sink in a very short time scaled.

A huge difference in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the ocean pump more carbon dioxide into the ocean’s surface layer where it is dissolved and stored.

Scientists have recognized the rate of carbon dioxide raises the emission, the ocean carbon sink strengthens in response, absorbing more and more of greenhouse gas. This phenomenon had been tracking over the past few decades but at smaller scales.


How much we are heating the planet when we breathe?

We, humans, do exhale almost 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, however, the carbon human exhale is the same carbon that we inhaled from the atmosphere by the plant we consume.

For example – when we eat meat, we are technically still eating the same carbon, except that it passes through livestock on its way into our mouth and out into the atmosphere.

Additionally, a high level of carbon in the atmosphere is because of all the sources of fossil fuels.

Even when a person dies, he takes a little carbon with him. Bones decomposes very slowly, and some of the tiny amount of your carbon. Physiologically, the existence of people and our livestock is removing carbon from the atmosphere, albeit at an incredibly slow rate.


How carbon sinks strengthening and weakening in oceans?

 Climate researchers and scientists have been observing the sink strengthening and weakening over decades as mentioned earlier but it’s still unclear what the exact mechanism behind its variability is.

The latest study published in AGU advance by a team of climate scientists led by Galen McKinley, an oceanographer at Columbia University in New York.

Scientists concluded after observing the data from the 1990s, heads spinning for years. The climate data from this decade, on average, displayed a global weakening of the ocean carbon sink. But when researchers zoom in on the year by year data, they found some irregular behavior.

The early 90s data showed the evidence in highly increased carbon sink. But from 1993 to 2000 the ocean carbon sinks significantly weekend.

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Changes in ocean circulation patterns and wind are the main reasons?

The scientists say there might be two forces that emerged during the early years of the decade. The 1991 volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, and the slowing growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The team of researchers combined a variety of data and models to isolate the most significant forces.

On assuming conclusion scientists said that the eruption caused widespread cooling of the ocean, it increases the ocean’s ability to dissolve carbon in its surface layer. And its impact lasted for the first couple of years right after the eruption until it faded away, leaving an atmosphere that had accumulated less carbon dioxide from earlier in the decade.

Eventually, these lower levels of carbon dioxide occurred partly as a result of a slowdown in the growth of fossil fuel usage during the 1980s right before the Soviet Union dissolved.

However, the most significant influence likely stemmed from a stronger “land carbon sink” in the 1980s and 1990s. Vegetation and soil might absorb more carbon than usual for reasons that are still poorly understood but scientists.

Therefore, the researchers assume, combined with the higher amount of dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean from the volcanic eruption, had lowered the difference between the amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the ocean enough to weaken the global ocean carbon sink for the rest of the decade.


They believe the swiftness of the response may have important implications for future efforts to slow climate change.

What will happen in the future?

According to the McKinley and the team of scientists, the ocean carbon sink has continued since 2001, on its 1990s path, getting stronger every year as the rate if carbon dioxide growing in the atmosphere. However, the fluctuations in this growth of carbon dioxide rate are inevitable, now it is very important to see how quickly the ocean will respond.

The constant changes in the growth rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have real and quick impacts on the ocean carbon sink.

And it’s very obvious if we able to reduce carbon emission, the ocean carbon sink will be slowdown as well.

If we see the bigger picture humans are failing to slow down the greenhouse gas emission. This may impact the future of climate change mitigation and it seems more difficult, but also must be reckoned with as the world attempts to roll back the rapid devastation presently occurring from two important consequences of greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, and warming.


Apparently, in the next few years, researchers are going to collect more data and refine models as they work to reflect the true variability of the ocean carbon sink.

It’s essential for policymakers to make better plans on climate change mitigation.

The ocean carbon might weaken in response to decreasing carbon emission. But an unpredictable catastrophic event such as volcanic eruption – or global pandemics can change carbon dioxide levels and have severe impacts on the ocean sink.

It’s a very ignorant issue among normal people but us if think and understand deeply how we are ruining our mother earth in every way. In return, nature is giving us unbearable catastrophic events.




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