More missing variable shenanigans from the IPCC

Posted: December 4, 2013 by tallbloke in Analysis, Carbon cycle, data, Ocean dynamics

IPCC neglected to account for coastal waters absorbing far more co2 than they emit since the industrial revolution, according to research published in Nature today. This from Science Daily:

Coastal portions of the world’s oceans, once believed to be a source of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, are now thought to absorb as much as two-thirds more carbon than they emitted in the preindustrial age, researchers estimate.

“The evidence suggests that human activities in coastal zones will continue to have an important impact on global carbon cycling,” Bauer said. “It’s a tricky area of study, but omitting the coastal ocean from the overall carbon budget leaves a gap in projections for future atmospheric CO2 levels.”

Prior to the industrial age, decomposing plant materials in coastal waters and sediments likely led to the release of carbon dioxide. The Nature paper suggests that microscopic plant growth in coastal areas, fueled by fertilizer runoff, is now leading to greater uptake of CO2. It also suggests that the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide caused by the burning of fossil fuels is further contributing to this uptake of CO2 by coastal waters.

New instrumentation allows scientists to generate new best estimates of carbon cycling in coastal areas. Using the latest measures available, Bauer and colleagues created a model estimating that coastal areas released, on average, about 150 million metric tons of carbon per year a century ago. Now, these same waters are estimated to absorb approximately 250 million metric tons of carbon each year.

“Some coastal oceans are still emitting carbon dioxide, so this is a global average and our best estimate of how they’re behaving as a whole around the earth if we add them up based on our current knowledge base,” he said. “To discern a large-scale switch like this on a global scale is fairly unusual.”

Bauer also noted that for the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to acknowledge the importance of coastal waters to the global carbon cycle in its next report, due out in early 2014. The IPCC’s 2007 report and other analyses of the global carbon cycle have largely neglected to take coastal oceans into account, he said.

Read the rest here

  1. Chaeremon says:

    Very good. I thought about microscopic plant growth and its impact (but wasn’t aware of “microscopic” nomenclature). Anyways, there is it now.

    Next stop: the first 100 meters in the surface (incl. submerged) of planet earth, the living room of even more tiny little creatures.

    Welcome science to our planet 🙂

  2. michael hart says:

    Shame they couldn’t have got round to admitting some of the uncertainties before the big IPCC report in 2013, isn’t it?

  3. kuhnkat says:

    Dr. Salby continues to look good…

  4. Warm oceans emit CO2
    Cool Oceans absorb CO2
    The water does not affect O2

    Only plants use co2 for photosynthesis and create O2 in sunlight
    plants use O2 and create CO2 in darkness (respiration)
    Burning fossil fuels uses O2 and creates CO2
    the plots of O2 and CO2 combined in this show that the annual cycle is plant based; but the the gradual reduction in O2 and increse in CO2 is “something else”

    Something is using our O2 and creating CO2 – perhaps fossil fuels? If it wer increase in plant growth then there would be an increasing amplitude on the yearly cycle!

  5. ren says:

    Current weather in the U.S..

  6. hunter says:

    Freshwater systems also capture huge amounts of CO2, despite their relatively small size compared to oceans.