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Global Change and the Ocean

By Andree Toonk | May 28, 2007

Last week when I was in Copenhagen I saw a presentation from Katherine Richardson from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark). She gave a really interesting presentation about how global warming changes the oceans and vice versa. Ocean waters now cover nearly 71 percent of Earth’s surface. Did you ever wonder how the oceans influence our environment and climate? Did you know that there is a constant exchange of gases between the ocean and atmosphere? About 50% of the “extra” CO2 released to the atmosphere from human activities is now found in the ocean. Thus, the ocean acts as a buffer with respect to the pace of global warming. This increase in CO2 is changing ocean chemistry and biology and it is not certain that the ocean will continue to take up CO2 in the future at the same rate as in the past.

You can watch the video of the presentation here The actual presentation starts at 21 minutes, the really interesting part starts en 34 minutes. Interesting is that in the end she proposes to tweak the eco system, in order to reduce the amount of OC2 in our environments. Is that really possible?

Topics: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Global Change and the Ocean”

  1. Freek Dijkstra Says:
    May 29th, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Slightly more specific: The “human CO2 production is about 26.4 Gton/year. This is tiny compared to the natural CO2 emission of 770 Gton/year. Now, this is balanced by a natural CO2 absorption of also 770 to 780 Gton/year, whereas only 40% of the human emission is absorbed by natural carbon sinks, mostly oceans and increased uptake by plants. To really balance it, another 15 Gton/year should be absorbed by natural processes.

    However, I don’t see how to tweak the eco system to do that.

    I strongly recommend to read the previous weeks New Scientist, which run a special issue on how to debunk the climate skeptics. It’s also available online:
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change (all info on climate change)
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11462
    (Climate change: A guide for the perplexed, last weeks special issue)
    The data quoted above comes from http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11638 (Climate myths: Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter), read the text and look at the pictures. You’ll love this special issue.

  2. Freek Dijkstra Says:
    May 29th, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    If this special issue is overwhelming, I suggest the articles “It’s been far warmer in the past, what’s the big deal?”, “Human CO2 emissions are too tiny to matter”, “The ‘hockey stick’ graph has been proven wrong”.

  3. Andree Toonk Says:
    June 2nd, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Freek,
    These are very interesting articles. Thanks for sharing.

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