The oceans contain most of the mobile carbon on the planet. They play a central role in CO2 uptake that may be changing with time, and that uptake has changed the pH of the ocean. This theme covers the forcing functions as well as the physical/chemical carbon-related impacts. These include, but might not be limited to:
increased temperature, its effect on climate, and related consequences (e.g., general warming and climate, changes in the hydrologic cycle on land and over the ocean, changes in rate of CO2 uptake by the oceans);
sea level change effects from CO2 (e.g., direct warming and volume increase of the oceans, melting of glacial ice and its effect on sea level);
increased dissolution of CO2 in the oceans and its effect on pH (here we would cover the evidence of increasing acidity and how long these changes will last; we would leave the impacts on ecosystems for the ecosystem group);
other physical changes in the ocean/climate system related to CO2 uptake, warming, or precipitation changes (e.g. changing patterns of El Nino, etc.).
Oceans and Carbon: Preparing for Decades of ChangeLast Updated on 2010-12-22 08:44:26
The world ocean is closely coupled to the changing carbon chemistry of the atmosphere through physical, chemical and biological interactions. Some of these interactions happen quickly, on timescales of minutes to weeks. But others proceed at the slow pace of ocean mixing – decades to millenia. This means that we have set in motion a vast shift in the oceans that will affect us for years to come.
The ocean is undersaturated in CO2 because photosynthetic organisms use it, together with water and light energy, to make organic material. Some of this organic material enters the food chain; some is transferred to deep water. These transfers remove CO2 from the atmosphere and allow the ocean to become a sink for atmospheric CO2. About 28% of the xxxGT CO2 that we introduce from fossil fuel burning and land use change every year is... More »
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