Study: Little Help from Oceans in Warming

ATHENS, Ga., Aug. 3 (UPI) — A belief that open water in polar regions created by melting ice can absorb carbon dioxide and lessen global warming may be wrong, U.S. scientists say.

A University of Georgia biochemist led a survey of waters in the Canada Basin from north of Alaska to the North Pole showing its value as a potential carbon dioxide “sink” may be short-lived at best and minor in terms of what the planet will need to avoid future problems, a university release said Tuesday.


“The Canada Basin and entire Arctic Ocean are still taking up carbon dioxide,” Wei-Jun Cai said. “But our research shows that as the ice melts, the carbon dioxide in the water very quickly reaches equilibrium with the atmosphere, so its use as a place to store CO2 declines dramatically and quickly.”

Because carbon dioxide and other gases dissolve more readily in cold water than warm water, scientists had long thought seas of melting polar ice would be good places for the absorption of carbon dioxide.

“One of the take-away lessons of this research is that we can’t expect the oceans to do the job of helping offset global warming in the short term,” said Cai.

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