- The ocean is a major component of the global carbon cycle, exchanging massive quantities of carbon in natural cycles driven by the ocean circulation and biogeochemistry. Since seawater has high capacity for absorbing carbon, the ocean also is a significant modulator of the rate of accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The net carbon uptake of the ocean amounts to approximately 25% of each year’s total anthropogenic emissions and the ocean has sequestered ~30% of the cumulative anthropogenic emissions since 1850. Because the net ocean carbon uptake depends on chemical and biological activity, the uptake may change as oceanic conditions change (e.g., pH, currents, temperature, surface winds, and biological productivity). Due to the chemistry of the inorganic carbon in water, this uptake is causing a decline in ocean pH, also known as ocean acidification. The ecological consequences of ocean acidification are a focus for much of the present research.
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Created 5/3/17, last modified 6/14/17