Home Science Southern Ocean significant CO2 absorption may disrupt life on Earth

Southern Ocean significant CO2 absorption may disrupt life on Earth


A recent study from scientists mentioned that the Southern Ocean is absorbing the carbon dioxide at an alarming rate. This may sound like a good news, as CO2 absorption can help reduce the global warming and greenhouse gases, but apparently, it is making the water more acidic which may prove to be fatal for the aquatic life. Several aquatic animals could die because of this.

Animals like shellfish can have their lifespans affected with acidifications as under such condition growing a shell is hard. As per the data, the ocean has absorbed about a quarter of the world’s CO2 emission since the industrialization, which in many terms is alarming. The CO2 emission has significantly increased over the past few years, and the ocean may not be able to absorb these emissions forever. If a decline in the absorption is observed, the Earth will have its Ozone layer damaged to unrepairable state and existence of any life form would be difficult. The very first living organism of the food chain, plants, will no longer be able to produce the food.

Approximately 30%-50% of the world’s CO2 emission from the burning of fossil fuel is absorbed by the oceans. Otherwise, the CO2 levels would measure around 500-600 parts per million by volume that is currently 355 ppmv.

“One has to recognize that despite this remarkable increase in the Southern Ocean carbon sink, emissions have gone up even more. A strong carbon sink in the Southern Ocean helps to mitigate climate change for the moment, as otherwise even more CO2 would have stayed in the atmosphere, but we cannot conclude that this will continue forever,” Prof Nicolas Gruber, lead author and environmental physicist.


Scientists are currently inclined to the fact that that sudden increase in the absorption is due to a change in the temperature and winds, and that’s why the Southern Ocean is absorbing more CO2 than produced by the nearby continents. Seas near the Antartica are consuming a large part of the CO2 generated by the burning of fossil fuels. The figures suggest that nearly 2.5 billion to 2 billion tons of CO2 are being absorbed by the oceans.

Scientists claim that oceans near the Antartica are absorbing more due to the presence of cold water. The water on the surface is denser in CO2 whereas, the deepest one has less contact with the atmosphere and hence absorbs only a fraction of it. The difference makes the ocean absorb even more.

SOURCEScience Mag
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