The Earth's oceans are thought to have taken up about one quarter of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that humans pumped into the atmosphere in the past 2 decades. While this drives acidification and has consequences for sea life, it also moderates the rate of climate change.
Researchers recently set out to create a global model of CO2 uptake using fine-scale observations on a global scale. Between 1998 and 2011, they found strong interannual variations, with the Pacific Ocean dominating the global flux variability.
"Shipboard surface water CO2 measurements are the backbone of data-based ocean CO2 sink estimates. Thanks to an increasing community effort, we are now able to estimate how much the ocean CO2 sink varies on inter-annual to decadal timescales," said Dr. Peter Landschützer, lead author of the Global Biogeochemical Cycles study.