Global Warming and Marine Carbon Cycle Feedbacks on Future Atmospheric CO2

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Science  16 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5413, pp. 464-467
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5413.464

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A low-order physical-biogeochemical climate model was used to project atmospheric carbon dioxide and global warming for scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The North Atlantic thermohaline circulation weakens in all global warming simulations and collapses at high levels of carbon dioxide. Projected changes in the marine carbon cycle have a modest impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide. Compared with the control, atmospheric carbon dioxide increased by 4 percent at year 2100 and 20 percent at year 2500. The reduction in ocean carbon uptake can be mainly explained by sea surface warming. The projected changes of the marine biological cycle compensate the reduction in downward mixing of anthropogenic carbon, except when the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation collapses.

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