New Oceans Study Could Alter Climate Predictions
A study published Monday in Nature Geoscience discovered a new factor that is lowering the rate at which oceans absorb carbon dioxide, a finding that could have a major impact on future climate change predictions.
Currently, around one-fourth of human generated carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by oceans, making them the world's largest carbon sink. But researchers from Newcastle, Heriot-Watt and Exeter Universities found that surfactants, invisible biological particles on the ocean's surface, can reduce the exchange of gases between the ocean and the air by up to 50 percent.
"The suppression of carbon dioxide uptake across the ocean basin due to surfactants, as revealed by our work, implies slower removal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus has implications for predicting future global climate," study co-author and Newcastle University marine biogeochemistry professor Rob Upstill-Goddard said in a University of Exeter press release.
This effect is expected to increase with global warming.
"As surface temperatures rise, so too do surfactants, which is why this is such a critical finding. The warmer the ocean surface gets, the more surfactants we can expect, and an even greater reduction in gas exchange," study author and Heriot-Watt University research fellow Dr. Ryan Pereira said in the release.
This is the first study to accurately calculate the impact of surfactants on the greenhouse gas exchange between oceans and the atmosphere. Previously, the major known driver of the exchange was ocean turbulence increased by wind. More wind means more turbulence, which leads to more of an exchange.
But the new research, conducted at 13 sites covering a range of ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean in 2014, found that surfactants can curb the impact of wind.
"These latest results build on our previous findings that, contrary to conventional wisdom, large sea surface enrichments of natural surfactants counter the effects of high winds," Upstill-Goddard said.
Because surfactants are difficult for human eyes and even satellites to see, researchers used a combination of satellite data and a special tank that measured the impact of surfactants on the exchange of gases in samples of ocean water collected by the team.
Study author and University of Exeter professor Dr. Ian Ashton explained how the data could be used to create a more accurate understanding of carbon dioxide levels going forward.
"Combining this new research with a wealth of satellite data available allows us to consider the effect of surfactants on gas exchange across the entire Atlantic Ocean, helping us to monitor carbon dioxide on a global scale," Ashton said.
Climate Change Is Making Fish Smaller https://t.co/okyBUgy1cg @CarbonDuke @ukycc— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1504483241.0
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›
By Teri Schultz
Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.
Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.