Study revealed that the ocean absorbs more carbon than expected

Isbel Lázaro.

el océano absorbe carbono

Inspenet, December 31, 2023.

A report published in the journal Nature surprisingly reveals that through phytoplankton, the ocean is absorbing 20% ​​more carbon than previously estimated.

It is an important calculation and reinforces the role of ocean biology in long-term carbon uptake ,” said Frédéric Le Moigne, oceanographer and marine biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), co-author of the study. conducted with Chinese and American researchers.

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The new estimate reaches 15 billion tons annually , which represents an increase of 20% compared to the calculations presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPEC) in 2021, according to a statement from the National Research Center. Scientific (CNRS).

Phytoplankton: responsible for the increase in carbon absorption

This increase in carbon absorption is carried out thanks to phytoplankton, which converts CO 2 into organic tissue through photosynthesis. A portion of this phytoplankton, upon dying, sinks from the ocean surface in the form of “marine snow.” To quantify these “marine snow” fluxes, researchers use existing data on ocean carbon concentration collected by oceanographic ships.

Thanks to this digital simulation, it was possible to reconstruct the global flows and especially in the regions where no measurement of the flows was made. It is about calculating how much carbon truly reaches the bottom of the ocean, at an average depth of 3,800 meters, without being devoured by marine organisms.“says Le Moigne. When it reaches the bottom of the ocean, this “marine snow” transforms into sediment and stone, absorbing carbon for very long periods.

According to the analysis carried out by scientists, the crucial importance of conserving marine biodiversity is highlighted to ensure the process of biological carbon absorption, since this flow is revealed to be even more significant than previously believed. The researcher at the Laboratory of Marine Environmental Sciences (LEMAR) in Plouzané, near Brest, points out that climate warming could weaken this biological absorption capacity.

Currently, it is estimated that around 30% of the carbon emitted by human activities and present in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, mainly through the dissolution of carbon in the polar seas.

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