Ocean carbon uptake widely underestimated, say researchers

Posted: September 5, 2020 by oldbrew in Carbon cycle, Emissions, Ocean dynamics, research, Temperature

The ocean carbon cycle [credit: IAEA]

Shockingly – for some – nature’s ocean carbon cycle is functioning quite well, despite constant attempts by feckless humans to undermine it [/sarc]. Time to revisit those troublesome computer models yet again.
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The world’s oceans soak up more carbon than most scientific models suggest, according to new research, reports Phys.org.

Previous estimates of the movement of carbon (known as “flux”) between the atmosphere and oceans have not accounted for temperature differences at the water’s surface and a few metres below.

The new study, led by the University of Exeter, includes this—and finds significantly higher net flux of carbon into the oceans.

It calculates CO2 fluxes from 1992 to 2018, finding up to twice as much net flux in certain times and locations, compared to uncorrected models.

“Half of the carbon dioxide we emit doesn’t stay in the atmosphere but is taken up by the oceans and land vegetation ‘sinks’,” said Professor Andrew Watson, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute.

“Researchers have assembled a large database of near-surface carbon dioxide measurements — the “Surface Ocean Carbon Atlas” (http://www.socat.info) — that can be used to calculate the flux of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean.

“Previous studies that have done this have, however, ignored small temperature differences between the surface of the ocean and the depth of a few metres where the measurements are made.

“Those differences are important because carbon dioxide solubility depends very strongly on temperature.

“We used satellite data to correct for these temperature differences, and when we do that it makes a big difference—we get a substantially larger flux going into the ocean.

“The difference in ocean uptake we calculate amounts to about 10 per cent of global fossil fuel emissions.”

Full report here.

Nature Communications (2020): “Revised estimates of ocean-atmosphere CO2 flux are consistent with ocean carbon inventory”

  1. ivan says:

    All this just proves that the so called ‘climate scientists’ know next to nothing about how the climate works or what it means to be a scientist. Yet despite all their failed predictions since 1970 they still manage to fool all the gullible politicians and so cost the tax payers of the world a fortune.

  2. gbaikie says:

    Maybe we will get too many fish.
    Got to be some kind problem with getting too many fish- say all those mouth breathers
    using up the oxygen, or something.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Study: We conclude that, when correctly applied, two data-led independent estimates for the ocean sink for CO2, based respectively on observations of the surface flux and the interior inventory of CO2, agree within relatively well-constrained uncertainties. The sink so determined is larger than most ocean carbon models predict, and suggests that some revision of the global carbon budget is required. [bold added]
    – – –
    CO2-based climate theories still won’t work, but at least the data will be less faulty.

  4. JB says:

    “…relatively well-constrained uncertainties…”?

    Now that’s a rice krispie mallow.

  5. Jeremy says:

    The correction “amounts to about 10 percent of global fossil fuel emissions”.

    A mosquito on the back of an elephant.


  6. stpaulchuck says:

    the modern version of ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’

  7. oldbrew says:

    scientific models suggest

    Suggest? But ‘the science is settled’ 😎

  8. How did the ocean part of the carbon cycle work during the Mesozoic (250-65 million years ago) with 1000-2000 ppm CO2? The biosphere was in vibrant health on land and sea. Where was the carbon apocalypse? How were the carbon “sinks” not “overwhelmed”?

    I guess a Brontosaurus was a carbon sink.
    All these carbon cycle stories are short-sighted, fantastical and inconsistent with the evidence of palaeo-history.

    And no – the “dim sun” lower past insolation won’t play a role as recently as the Mesozoic.

  9. cognog2 says:

    I suspect most of the purported CO2 uptake in the oceans comes from raindrops. The interface area where this occurs in the atmosphere is very large in comparison with the area of the oceans.

  10. tom0mason says:

    This report is arguing from ignorance!
    From the effects of desert dust on the ocean surface, to underwater volcanoes affecting water temperature and chemistry — we just don’t fully understand.

    From https://norwegianscitechnews.com/2015/06/we-know-more-about-the-moon-

    There are large unexplored ocean areas, and there is an enormous amount we do not know about them. We actually know more about the moon than the seafloor,” says Steinar Ellefmo, an Associate Professor in NTNU’s Department of Geology and Mineral Resources Engineering.
    Just over 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. We know a little about what is hidden below the water’s surface, but far from everything. And we know even less about what is to be found in the seabed. But we know there are undersea volcanoes that form near where the continental plates meet and create fissures into the Earth’s interior.

    Submarine volcanoes, or hydrothermal vents, were first discovered in 1977 in the Pacific Ocean. They are also called black smoker chimneys because of the apparent black smoke that flows out of them. They spew out minerals and metals from rocks deep in the earth’s crust and deposit them on the seabed.

    So how many underwater volcanoes are there, where are they, and how do they each change the chemistry of the local waters and the oceans and seas in general. We have no long term records of how the oceans have changes over say the last 300 years or longer, so we can not say with any certainty what has happened recently is influence by man or (more likely) natural events.

    The world’s oceans soak up more carbon than most scientific models suggest …

    SOCAT gets it numbers from GOOS. GOOS is sponsored by the UN and WMO, and appears to incorporate the IPCC models in their analysis. Click on the ‘Climate’ red button on the left of this graphic
    https://www.goosocean.org/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=120&Itemid=277 .

  11. Gamecock says:

    All previous modeling has been invalidated. You know, like the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

    And the 4th.

    And the 3rd.

    Of course, you would have to be a chump to believe any of it, anyway.

  12. Chris* says:

    Good grief! This diagram is wrong. Co2 from the atmosphere is only found in the top few meters of the Ocean. Geothermal activity puts out millions of tons of CO2 and CH4 into the oceans which rise into the atmosphere. NASA has photographed Methane coming from the Atlantic rift and measured in cubic miles. Methane by the way is broken down in the presence of sunlight and Oxygen into CO2 and H2O.

  13. tom0mason says:

    If they can admit they are wrong about CO2 uptake by the oceans, maybe they can be wrong about venting of CO2 from the oceans. Maybe since 1850 and as the oceans gradually warm, the oceans have been a CO2 net contributor to the atmospheric CO2.

    Maybe they know as much about the oceans as they do about clouds.
    Admitting some cloud error is as close as most climate modellers come to admitting their projections are not fit for purpose. From the debate on this study https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab97c9 at https://theconversation.com/why-clouds-are-the-missing-piece-in-the-climate-change-puzzle-140812

    But current climate models don’t agree on where that threshold lies. In new research, we discovered one of the reasons why there is such a large range of estimates for how much carbon can be safely emitted: the uncertain behaviour of clouds. In some climate models, clouds strongly amplify warming. In others, they have a neutral effect or even dampen warming slightly.

  14. stpaulchuck says:

    these Klimate Klowns haven’t gotten even close to reality with their junk science and likely never will until we get a super massive quantum computer… HOWEVER… GIGO rules in computerland.