On December 11, 2020 researchers with the Global Carbon Project released their annual update for the Global Carbon Budget. Daily global CO2 emissions are estimated to have decreased by a maximum of about 17% by early April 2020 compared to average levels in 2019. About half of this change is due to changes in surface transport, especially road transport, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Leticia Barbero is a chemical oceanographer at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami. In her role, she works with AOML to study the carbon dioxide system in the ocean, specifically ocean acidification in the coastal waters of the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.
Every year the Global Carbon Project publishes an authoritative observation based Global Carbon Budget detailing the annual release of fossil fuel carbon dioxide and the uptake by the terrestrial biosphere and oceans. In 2018 the global carbon emissions were still increasing, but their rate of increase had slowed. Global carbon emissions are set to grow more slowly in 2019, with a decline in coal burning offset by strong growth in natural gas use worldwide.
The ability to predict Earth’s future climate relies upon monitoring efforts to determine the fate of carbon dioxide emissions. For example, how much carbon stays in the atmosphere or becomes stored in the oceans or on land? The oceans in particular have helped to slow climate change as they absorb and then store carbon dioxide for thousands of years.
A unique collaboration between Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCL) and the University of Miami’s (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is amassing an incredibly valuable dataset highlighting the intricate connection between the ocean, atmosphere and climate. Over the past 20 years UM has benefited from many scientific collaborators in this endeavor, most importantly, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contributing their own scientific expertise and scientific equipment.
NOAA and partners have launched a new buoy in Fagatele Bay within NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the waters around a vibrant tropical coral reef ecosystem. “This new monitoring effort in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean will not only advance our understanding of changing ocean chemistry in this valuable and vibrant coral ecosystem but will also help us communicate these changes to diverse stakeholders in the Pacific Islands and across the United States,” said Derek Manzello, coral ecologist with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
The new research published by NOAA and international partners in Science finds as carbon dioxide emissions have increased in the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed a greater volume of emissions. Though the volume of carbon dioxide going into the ocean is increasing, the percentage of emissions — about 31 percent — absorbed by it has remained relatively stable when compared to the first survey of carbon in the global ocean published in 2004.
Corals live and thrive by maintaining a careful balance between their growth rate and the rate of erosion. Scientists already know the projected increases in carbon dioxide in our global oceans, known as ocean acidification, will slow the rate at which corals build the hard calcium carbonate skeletons that are the foundation of their habitat. A new study published online today in PLOS ONE demonstrates that in naturally highly acidified waters, these coral skeletons will also face increased erosion from microscopic organisms, called bioerosion. The result is accelerated breakdown and loss of reef structures, and potentially the loss of essential habitat.
NOAA selected AOML oceanographer Dr. Rik Wanninkhof in October 2015 to become a Senior Technical Scientist, the highest attainable level for federal research scientists within NOAA. Rik is an internationally recognized authority on air-sea gas transfer with close to 25 years of experience studying the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide on the ocean. Senior Technical Scientist positions are held by individuals who achieve national and/or international distinction in their field through their high-level research.
Scientists from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami have documented a dramatic shift from vibrant coral communities to carpets of algae in remote Pacific Ocean waters where an undersea volcano spews carbon dioxide.