Tag: carbon dioxide

Annual atmospheric CO2 increase the biggest on record

Far, far away from 350 ppm …

Atmospheric carbon dioxide in February 2016 measured at Mauna Loa.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide in February 2016 measured at Mauna Loa.

Staff Report

The goal of limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million — considered the environmentally “safe” level, just moved a little farther away. Scientists tracking concentrations of the heat-trapping pollutant at a mountaintop lab in Hawaii said last week that CO2 concentrations jumped by the largest annual amount recorded since measurements began 56 years ago.

The reading comes from NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory, and researchers said the latest increase was the fourth year in a row that CO2 concentrations grew by more than 2 parts per million, according to a press release from NOAA.

“Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “It’s explosive compared to natural processes.” Continue reading “Annual atmospheric CO2 increase the biggest on record”

New study maps ocean acidification at global scale

This map shows the global distribution of aragonite saturation at 50 meters depth. The graphic shows areas that are most vulnerable to ocean acidification since they are regions where the saturation of aragonite is lower. Aragonite is a calcium carbonate mineral that shellfish use to build their shells.
This map shows the global distribution of aragonite saturation at 50 meters depth. The graphic shows areas that are most vulnerable to ocean acidification since they are regions where the saturation of aragonite is lower. Aragonite is a calcium carbonate mineral that shellfish use to build their shells. Graphic courtesy NOAA.

U.S. West Coast seen as vulnerable

Staff Report

There’s little doubt that all the world’s oceans are being acidified by the release of carbon dioxide, but some areas are more vulnerable than others, scientists said this week after measuring levels of aragonite, a substance that’s critical for shell-building organisms.

The new study, led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers, says the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, and the upwelling ocean waters off the west coasts of North America, South America and Africa as regions are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification.

When cold waters in those regions, already loaded with CO2, circulate to the upper layers of the oceans they mix with surface waters that are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, subjecting them to a double whammy of sorts, according to the scientists. The carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is coming primarily from human-caused fossil fuel emissions. Continue reading “New study maps ocean acidification at global scale”

Study finds unexpected new Antarctic carbon sink

Global warming is just getting started in the Antarctic region.
Global warming is just getting started in the Antarctic region.

Increased seafloor life seen as negative global warming feedback

Staff Report

Shrinking sea ice around parts of Antarctica has spurred the growth of seafloor life that may help accumulating and bury carbon, researchers reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

“It was a surprise that life had been invisibly responding to climate change for more than a decade below one of the most obviously visible impacts of climate change: the ‘blueing’ poles,” said David Barnes, of the British Antarctic Survey. “We’ve found that a significant area of the planet, more than three million square kilometers, is a considerable carbon sink and, more importantly, a negative feedback on climate change.” Continue reading “Study finds unexpected new Antarctic carbon sink”

Report: Little doubt that global warming will eradicate the world’s glaciers and ice sheets

‘The big picture across the world and over the long run is clear — carbon dioxide is making the ice melt’

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A Greenland glacier shows signs of wear and tear during the peak of the summer melt season. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just like today, there were regional nuances in the Earth’s climate at the end of the last ice age — like solar radiation and ocean currents — that were factors in the meltdown of ice sheets and glaciers.

But the single biggest overriding cause was a global rise in temperatures caused by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, a team of researchers said in a new study that measured isotopes in boulders that were uncovered during the global meltdown 11,000 years ago. Continue reading “Report: Little doubt that global warming will eradicate the world’s glaciers and ice sheets”

Climate: Conservation group tries new path to limiting CO2 emissions

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Increasingly corrosive ocean waters pose a serious threat to shell-building species and other marine life.

‘Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do everything we could to save the world’s oceans …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing the growing threat to the world’s oceans, environmental advocates want the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The regulations have been used to limit emissions of other harmful chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, PCBs and asbestos.

“Time’s running out to avoid a mass extinction of wildlife in our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It may not look like a toxic chemical, but when there’s too much CO2 in the ocean, it turns seawater corrosive and dissolves the protective shells that marine animals need to survive,” Sakashita said. Continue reading “Climate: Conservation group tries new path to limiting CO2 emissions”

Global CO2 level hit 400 ppm milestone in March

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Dubious milestone.

Irrevocable climate change ahead for Planet Earth

Staff Report

FRISCO — For the first time since people started keeping track of such things, the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was above 400 parts per million for an entire month.

Climate scientists say the readings from March 2015 are another significant milestone along the path to a dangerously overheated world, as carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution continue drive global warming. Continue reading “Global CO2 level hit 400 ppm milestone in March”

Climate: Study says fjords are key carbon sinks

Fjords like this one in Iceland may play an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. @bberwyn photo.
Fjords like this one in Iceland may play an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. @bberwyn photo.

Deep, cold and oxygen-starved, fjords may keep organic carbon from entering the atmosphere for many centuries

Staff Report

FRISCO — The majestic fjords of the far north may have played a key role in buffering the atmosphere against variations in carbon dioxide levels associated with rapid climate change at the beginning and end of past ice ages.

A study by New Zealand scientists estimates that fjords capture and store about 18 million tons of organic carbon each year. That’s equal to about 11 percent of annual marine carbon capture globally, said Dr. Candida Savage of New Zealand’s University of Otago, after publishing her findings in the  journal Nature Geoscience. Continue reading “Climate: Study says fjords are key carbon sinks”