CarboOcean, a large EU-project, led by the University of Bergen, has looked into the role played by the oceans concerning CO2. Researchers have been measuring and analysing the consequences since 2005 and have developed various scenarios for the future.
Hunting for CO2
As in medicine and meteorology, researchers must first of all diagnose the problem, before they can give a prognosis. Exact measurements that show how much CO2 the oceans are able to absorb are therefore extremely important when trying to predict the future.
In the programme, we join Emil Jeansson from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research on board. He has a new device with him – one that hasn’t been on board ship before. This could prove challenging.
A vicious circle
Many believed that the ocean could be the solution to the CO2 problem. Lack of data about how much CO2 can be absorbed and how circulation affects absorption, has meant that many naively believed that the ocean could be our salvation. Results of surveys taken in the north Atlantic, which is the area of ocean that absorbs the most CO2 per square surface metre, show that absorption is more unstable than expected. The sea takes up 50% less CO2 than it did 15 years ago. It looks as though climate change is causing the ocean to absorb less and less CO2. And when the sea absorbs less, then climate changes escalate.
For safeties sake
- As a result of the project we see elements of uncertainty in a more realistic way, says Professor Christoph Heinze at UiB. He has been responsible for the scientific management of the project. – We can see the complexity of the system in which we operate and just how risky this is. We should therefore make “conservative” decisions with regard to the challenges we are faced with concerning climate change.