Friday, October 19, 2007

Atlantic Carbon Uptake Halved!

Breaking news today: Now this is worrisome to say the least. In the narrow time space of the past 10 years the carbon uptake of the Atlantic ocean has shrunk dramatically. We need to watch this trend very closely. It could signal Purgatory time.

The combined data of some 90 thousand measuring time-points (that is a staggering set of almost 100 thousand separate measurement) shows a disturbing trend. In the past ten years since the 1990s the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that the ENTIRE Atlantic ocean can mop up from the atmosphere has been cut i.

Why is it important? For two reasons at least.

One, the oceans are thought to be the real deal compared to old growth rain forest when it comes to cleaning up the atmosphere. And two, it is not just surface absorption by the huge body of water that helps. It is just as much important that the tiny crustacean organisms living there breath in CO2 and build it in the carbon of their tiny shells. When they die, they sink to the bottom, removing that carbon pretty much forever. And they live by the zillions, so this is a huge amount of carbon we are talking about.

The current measurement is alarming because it shows that a tremendous stress on those organisms could be taking its toll already. Their capacity to breath in CO2 may not have changed, but because of the salinity of the oceans that has increased due to the enormous amount of carbon it now absorbs, the size of shells those tiny creatures can grow is greatly eroded. Saline waters thin those shells. So when they sink in the end, they remove that much less carbon.

The halving of the overall carbon uptake in 10 short years is not a good trend. If it stays just linear then by the end of the next 20 years the uptake will be as little as 12.5% of what would be needed. However, because less uptake means more salinity which then means yet thinner shells, the trend is expected to feed back on itself. Further, yet thinner shells may no longer sink, only drift away and finally wash up. When those shells erode, the carbon is washed back into the waterways, soil and oceans increasing the salinity of all that.

So in case the trend is NOT linear, in just 20 years the uptake could reduce to just 3.125% of its original size. There in that period may actually come a point where shells could become so thin that they no longer sink at all. They would start drifting instead as it is not just the density of shells that matter but also the buoyancy of the water that would now keep them from sinking. Increasing storms would ensure huge braking waves and tornadoes sucking up then spitting the leftover CO2 into the lower atmosphere.

Notice that by this point, OCEANS COULD BE CO2 (or carbon dioxide) contributors. That level of salinity might start locally rotting a lot of surface plants such as sea weeds and such. And so OCEANS COULD BECOME CH4 (or methane) contributors. And that would be a big bad news as methane is much more potent greenhouse gas then carbon dioxide. Saline surface waters would also erode the thin shells now drifting and floating aimlessly there.

Weaker and weaker thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic could further exacerbate the trend as heavy and salty cold waters would not be available by then to still help with the sinking of critically thin shells.

By then oceans would no longer be refusing to mop up, but they would be net emitters of massive quantities of CO2 and possibly methane. We need to watch this disturbing trend VERY CLOSELY.

And regardless of what alarming data scientists measure, drastically reduce your personal carbon emission. If but one of us does not do it, the effort of all the rest of us becomes disrespected and soiled. Also mop up carbon individually as much as possible. The picture in 30-40 years is ain't pretty any way you cut it.

But if you don't stop engine when idle, don't walk or bike instead of any form of transport, cremate instead of burials and the list goes on, the picture is not likely to clear up after the PURGATORY of the next decades.

Do we really want to burn alive? Why bring Hell on Earth when it could be the stepping stone to Heaven.

The good thing about changing climate back is that path is now OPEN to ALL OF US. By the People, Of the People, for Mother Earth - All the Peoples Included.

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