How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide 

Posted: February 26, 2016 by oldbrew in Carbon cycle, general circulation, Ocean dynamics

Carbon cycle [image credit: NASA Earth Observatory]

Carbon cycle [image credit: NASA Earth Observatory]

Somebody seems to have re-discovered the carbon cycle, and true to form the BBC is keen to spread the word by trying to relate it to buses and jumbo jets.

The seas around the UK and the rest of northern Europe take up a staggering 24 million tonnes of carbon each year. It is a mass equivalent to two million double-decker buses or 72,000 747 jets. The number was produced by scientists studying the movement of carbon dioxide into and out of the oceans.

The team, led by Heriot-Watt University and Exeter University, has produced a software “engine” that will allow other scientists to do the same for different parts of the globe. “It’s a software toolbox essentially, that we’ve made available,” said Exeter’s Jamie Shutler. “We’ve used it for our own work. We’ve done extensive checking, and now we’re putting it out there for everyone else to use.”

The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by seawater acts as a moderator in the climate system. It is estimated that a third of all human-produced CO2 emissions, from fossil fuel burning and the like, ends up in the oceans. Another third is taken up by land “sinks”, with the rest remaining in the atmosphere. Researchers are keen to understand how this budget might change over time.

Full report here: How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide – BBC News

The Flux Engine – A flexible processing system for calculating atmosphere-ocean carbon dioxide gas fluxes and climatologies

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘The number was produced by scientists studying the movement of carbon dioxide into and out of the oceans.’

    Where are the figures for the movement of CO2 out of the oceans?

  2. tom0mason says:

    “How Northern European waters soak up carbon dioxide” by the application of malt extract, malted barley, hops, yeast, and a little patience?

  3. Mjw says:

    Oh no, CO2 is polluting the oceans as well. Quick, we will have to impose a seawater rectification tax.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve often speculated that cold polar rain ought to act as a counter current stripper sort of thing for CO2. Cold raindrops ought to saturate with the stuff, then deposit it in the ocean.

    At the equator, it ought to outgas with evaporation.

    As the poles cool in this down cycle, that would argue a shift in the mass balance toward less buildup in the air, and maybe even a decline.

  5. Richard111 says:

    I tend to agree with E.M.Smith. Another point: the air over my garden right now is +3C, 276K, the carbon dioxide in that air will be very close to that temperature via kinetic collisions. If the CO2 was much colder it would fall out of the air, so just how in the name of all that is holy can CO2 ABSORB any radiation from the surface in the 13 to 17 micron bands (some 20% of all the energy leaving the surface) when the peak temperature for 13 microns is about -50C, 223K? ? ? ? ?

  6. oldbrew says:

    Richard: this seems to support your argument – ‘IR Expert Speaks Out’.

    ‘Starting at 13 we get CO2 absorption but that wavelength corresponds to temperatures below even that of the south pole. Nowhere from 9 to 13 microns do we see appreciable absorption bands of CO2. This means the greenhouse effect is way over 95% caused by water vapor and probably less than 3% from CO2.’

  7. I don’t watch the BBC as it is one of the most biased and politically one-sided media outlets in the world. And indeed, the few times I do now get to hear snippets of what they broadcast, the more I realise just how much of their bias I used to accept as the “normal views” of society. Instead they are just the very narrow views of the “establishment” – the political establishment in London, the academic establishment in Universities and the PC-establishment in the (once) mainstream media.

  8. Richard111 says:

    Thanks oldbrew, will pass that link around. Another point I like to make is that CO2 only absorbs over the 2.7 and 4.3 micron bands when the sun is shining. That absorbed energy doesn’t reach the ground. A cooling effect!

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    Mr E.M.Smith has it exactly correct. Cold polar storms at sea strip CO2 from the atmosphere. Cold “dirty” saltwater is an excellent scrubbing liquid that gathers and traps that gas. Warming that water liberates the gas from the liquid but the CO2 that is chemically combined is trapped and precipitates out. As the rising sun penetrates into the dark polar seas, great blooms of plankton take place from the well fertilized seawater while the always warmed tropic seas are clear and sterile. Atmospheric CO2 lags temperature 800 years…….em… wonder why that is? 😉 …pg

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    “as the POLES cool”… (typing on a pad pseudo keyboard is a pain).

    @Scottish Sceptic:

    Back around 1960s the BBC shortwave service was a great global news source. Since then it steadily was corrupted into all propaganda all the time. I dropped out of their audience shortly after the move to the all red color scheme (seemingly matching the end of the last real content shows). I still stop on it from time to time. Mostly out of missplaced hope, and move on in a minute, or to watch Star Trek TNG…


    I think the 800 years involves the pole to equator deep water transport time. An oscillator with a very large time constant delay line.

  11. Richard111 says:

    Yep. BBC World Service was all I could get in Singapore back in the 1960’s. Was considered a lifeline then. BBC here in the UK now is a total disgrace. They can’t even get the weather reports right.

  12. ulriclyons says:

    Given how large a CO2 sink that the north Atlantic is, its CO2 uptake is considerably reduced during a warm AMO, and the warm AMO causes further reduction in land CO2 uptake because of the drying effects of a warm AMO. That could explain the peaks in chemical measurements of CO2 in the 1940’s.