PerspectiveOcean Science

The Fate of Industrial Carbon Dioxide

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Science  16 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5682, pp. 352-353
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100602

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Not all of the carbon dioxide produced by humans ends up in the atmosphere, but exactly where it all ends up and how much is captured by the oceans have been longstanding mysteries. In his Perspective, Takahashi discusses results reported in the same issue by Sabine et al. and Feely et al. that address these questions. Sabine et al. used an extensive data set to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by the oceans. Feely et al. studied what happens to calcium carbonate shell material from ocean organisms and the impact of industrial carbon dioxide on organism growth and dissolution of the shells. Such improvements in understanding the sources and sinks of carbon should provide information needed to make decisions about how to constrain the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.