A new study by scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) has revealed the alkalinity of river runoff to be a crucial factor for slowing the pace of ocean acidification along the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coast. This valuable, first-time finding may be indicative of ocean carbon chemistry patterns for other U.S. coastal areas significantly connected to rivers.
In absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2), the oceans play a crucial role in regulating the climate, a role yet to be fully understood. However, the oceans’ ability to contribute to climate regulation may decline and even be reversed in the future. The oceans that are now the blue lungs of our planet, could end up contributing to global warming.
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.
Research: Ocean Acidification Varies Around North America with Hot Spots Found in Northeast and West Coast Waters
New NOAA and partner research comparing ocean acidification around North America shows that the most vulnerable coastal waters are along the northern part of the east and west coasts. While previous research has looked at specific regions, the new study appearing in Nature Communications, is the first in-depth comparison of ocean acidification in all North American coastal ocean waters.
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.
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.
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.
A research vessel ploughs through the waves, braving the strong westerly winds of the Roaring Forties in the Southern Ocean in order to measure levels of dissolved carbon dioxide in the surface of the ocean. (Nicolas Metzl, LOCEAN/IPSL Laboratory).