Report

Saturation of the Southern Ocean CO2 Sink Due to Recent Climate Change

Science  22 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5832, pp. 1735-1738
DOI: 10.1126/science.1136188

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Abstract

Based on observed atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and an inverse method, we estimate that the Southern Ocean sink of CO2 has weakened between 1981 and 2004 by 0.08 petagrams of carbon per year per decade relative to the trend expected from the large increase in atmospheric CO2. We attribute this weakening to the observed increase in Southern Ocean winds resulting from human activities, which is projected to continue in the future. Consequences include a reduction of the efficiency of the Southern Ocean sink of CO2 in the short term (about 25 years) and possibly a higher level of stabilization of atmospheric CO2 on a multicentury time scale.

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