A new study found that the Southern Ocean has become a large sink of massive greenhouse gases after it was previously known to have wane down its carbon contents during the early 2000s. According to the researchers, it has been housing 1.2 billion tons of carbon since 2011, putting risks on marine life and environment.
Previous studies have found that the said carbon reservoir, which is the most significant area for anthropogenic carbon dioxide uptake, has dwindled in the past decades. The Southern Ocean's ability to absorb the greenhouse gas has weakened thus, allowing the emissions to be taken by the atmosphere. However, a group of international researchers discovered that the Southern Ocean had restored its usual strength due to the changes that has transpired among the temperatures and the winds.
The researchers analyzed observational data about the levels of carbon dioxide on the ocean's surface collated over a period of decades. The findings of the investigations, published in the journal Science, showed that the abatement trend was deterred around 2002. By 2012, the vigor of the sink has reached its usual conditions, based on the amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The three areas of the Southern Ocean have all added to the restrengthening of the carbon dioxide sink. However, the mechanisms with which each sector has contributed varied due to the asymmetrical atmospheric circulation. The researchers later suggested that the changes that transpired over the decades may be influenced by potent carbon cycle in the ocean that increasingly alters with time.
The proof that the efficacy of the Southern Ocean's sink was then a cause of worry because it signifies that atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, said Bronte Tilbrook, study co-author from the CSIRO and the Antarctic and Climate Systems CRC. The reinvigoration of the sink was brought about by weather pattern changes in the Antarctica. The reaction of the sink is still unknown but the scientists are getting the impression that its level of variability is far greater than what was previously perceived. Reduction may be possible again.
Oceans serve as the vital halt machine that controls the levels of greenhouse gases emitted by vehicles and power plants; the composition of the oceans is being altered by the amounts of carbon.
Carbon also increases the acidity of oceans. The researchers estimate that today's oceans are approximately 30 percent more acidic compared to how it was about 100 years ago. The main dilemma with ocean acidification is that it can affect marine and tropical organisms, particularly having problems with shell and skeletal development.