Southern Ocean no Longer Absorbing Carbon

NWF   |   June 4, 2007

The Earth’s largest carbon sink – the Southern Ocean – is no longer absorbing carbon.  This may lead heat trapping gases in our atmosphere to rise even faster because one of the planet’s natural abilities to keep greenhouse gases out of the air is the ability of oceans to absorb the carbon we are emitting, and we are harming this global cooling function. Such positive feedback loops, which are in fact one of the most dangerous results of global warming, have been predicted by scientists and confirm that we need to act now to reduce the worst affects of global warming.

From “Earth’s natural defences against climate change ‘beginning to fail’” by Michael McCarthy:

“The earth’s ability to soak up the gases causing global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a long-feared sign of ‘positive feedback,’ new research reveals today. Climate change itself is weakening one of the principal ‘sinks’ absorbing carbon dioxide – the Southern Ocean around Antarctica – a new study has found. "As a result, atmospheric CO2 [carbon dioxide] levels may rise faster and bring about rising temperatures more quickly than previously anticipated. Stabilising the CO2 level, which must be done to bring the warming under control, is likely to become much more difficult, even if the world community agrees to do it.”

Check out the full article at

We all need to continue to take steps to reduce America’s emissions of heat trapping gases like carbon dioxide by at least 2% a year to 80% by 2050. America can do this. Each of us can make a difference – by changing to compact fluorescent bulbs, buying goods with less packaging, and talking to our friends and neighbors, for starters.

What will you do today?

Published: June 4, 2007