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Emissions of CO2 from Oceans Could Increase with Global Warming Warn Scientists

June 9, 2014
Environmental Protection

A study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh has found that the amount of carbon dioxide released from the world’s oceans could significantly increase as global temperatures rise.

The researchers looked at a 26,000 year old sediment core taken from the Gulf of California to try to discover how the oceans ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere has changed over time. Tracking the amounts of silicone and iron in the fossils of plankton the study found that times when silicone was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with warm global temperatures. The associated lack of atmospheric iron was seen to have a significant effect on the planktons ability to absorb CO2.

Dr Laetitia Pichevin of the School of Geosciences explained further; “Iron is known to be a key nutrient for plankton, but we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans,” she said. “If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment.”

The study published in the journal Nature Geoscience is thought to be the first to make a direct link between iron levels and other key marine elements involved in regulating atmospheric CO2 by the oceans. Last year the World Meteorological Organisation reported that carbon dioxide levels rose more sharply in the past twelve months than in the previous decade.