Southern Ocean Highly Efficient At Storing Carbon

By on September 16, 2015

Southern Ocean. (Credit: Colm Sweeney / CIRES & NOAA)


All ocean carbon sinks aren’t created equal, according to a release from the American Geophysical Union. The Southern Ocean near Antarctica has been shown to be the best at absorbing carbon since 2002, as it is only 26 percent of the total ocean area but takes up 40 percent of the carbon stored in oceans.

Much data were collected in the rough and windy area of the Southern Ocean called the Drake Passage. The data comprised carbon dioxide assessment information which was collected by scientists on a maritime research vessel, along with other types of information. Collaborative international data sets were also used to determine that the Southern Ocean was a superior carbon sink, such as carbon dioxide data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ship of Opportunity program, the largest coordinated carbon dioxide sampling effort in the world.

The Southern Ocean was previously rated as either stagnant or weak as a carbon sink, but the current data seem to strongly overturn the earlier assessment. Despite all the data collected recently, researchers still believe the Southern Ocean and others are undersampled and a greater monitoring effort is needed all around.

Top image: Southern Ocean. (Credit: Colm Sweeney / CIRES & NOAA)

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