The Earth’s oceans absorb billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which plays an important role in regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,media reported. A new study suggests that we may be underestimating the effectiveness of this huge carbon sink, and a new model by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that ocean “biological pumps” actually capture twice as much carbon dioxide as previously thought.
Like forests, the ocean is a carbon sink that absorbs carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Phytoplankton that live in the ocean produce food and energy by using sunlight and carbon. The end result of these microbes is either death or being swallowed up by zooplankton, which are carried deeper into the ocean by either way — while taking away the carbon they store. After that, they may be buried in sediments or eaten by larger marine life.
Previously, the oceans were thought to absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity in this way. Now, however, WHOI scientists believe the “biopump” absorbs far more carbon than people think.
Ken Buesseler, geochemist at WHOI, said: “If you look at the same data in a completely new way, you get a very different view of the role of the oceans in dealing with carbon, and its role in regulating the climate.” “
It is understood that this time scientists no longer rely on fixed depth measurements but use data from chlorophyll sensors, which reveal the presence of phytoplankton and, in turn, reveal the edges of the transmission belt. Based on the analysis, the team concluded that the depth of the dividing line varies around the world, considering that the oceans absorb about twice as much carbon per year as previously thought.
The team says this new understanding of biocarbon pumps, if widely used, could provide a clearer picture of how carbon emissions affect the climate and how global policies can be implemented to mitigate their impact.
Buesseler said that by using the new indicators, they will be able to improve the model, which will not only tell people what the ocean looks like today, but also what the ocean will look like in the future, “Is the amount of carbon sinking in the ocean rising or falling?” This number will affect the climate of the world in which we live. “
The study was published in The National Academy of Sciences.