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.
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”→
Increased seafloor life seen as negative global warming feedback
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”→
‘The big picture across the world and over the long run is clear — carbon dioxide is making the ice melt’
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.
‘Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do everything we could to save the world’s oceans …’
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”→
Deep, cold and oxygen-starved, fjords may keep organic carbon from entering the atmosphere for many centuries
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”→