Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans

From the University of Edinburgh and the department of soda pop science, comes something we already knew. I wonder who approved the grant for this one?

This is a scanning electron microscope image of ocean plankton.

Rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world’s oceans, fuelling further climate change, a study suggests.

Fresh insight into how the oceans can affect CO2 levels in the atmosphere shows that rising temperatures can indirectly increase the amount of the greenhouse gas emitted by the oceans.

Scientists studied a 26,000-year-old sediment core taken from the Gulf of California to find out how the ocean’s ability to take up atmospheric CO2 has changed over time. 

This is a scanning electron microscope image of ocean plank

They tracked the abundance of the key elements silicon and iron in the fossils of tiny marine organisms, known as plankton, in the sediment core. Plankton absorb CO2 from the atmosphere at the ocean surface, and can lock away vast quantities of carbon.

Researchers found that those periods when silicon was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with relatively warm climates, low levels of atmospheric iron, and reduced CO2 uptake by the oceans’ plankton. Scientists had suspected that iron might have a role in enabling plankton to absorb CO2. However, this latest study shows that a lack of iron at the ocean surface can limit the effect of other key elements in helping plankton take up carbon.

This effect is magnified in the southern ocean and equatorial Pacific and coastal areas, which are known to play a crucial role in influencing levels of CO2 in the global atmosphere.

This is a scanning electron microscope image of ocean plankton.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say their findings are the first to pinpoint the complex link between iron and other key marine elements involved in regulating atmospheric CO2 by the oceans. Their findings were verified with a global calculation for all oceans. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, was supported by Scottish Alliance for Geoscience Environment Society and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Laetitia Pichevin, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “Iron is known to be a key nutrient for plankton, but we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment.”

###

About these ads

59 thoughts on “Warming climates intensify greenhouse gas given out by oceans

  1. “me too science”

    Is there anything in this that isn’t already well known? Well maybe: “Their findings were verified with a global calculation for all oceans”, that’s pretty impressive based on a single drill core that doesn’t even span a whole glacial cycle.

  2. If warming increases the ease of CO2 release from the oceans what does that do to the “Acidification” meme?

  3. Has this research been cleared with The Team? Because it indicates that a considerable amount of CO2 has been released from the oceans naturally by the slight warming in the last century. It also means that Trenberth’s missing heat announce itself by a release of CO2 from the deep oceans.

  4. CO2 causes ‘ocean acidification’ = BAD!
    CO2 causes a ‘warmer atmosphere’ which causes oceans to out-gas CO2 = BAD!

    Welcome yet again to the Climate Bunko Booth. ‘Heads we win, tails you lose, and EVERYTHING is due to CO2′

  5. Perhaps now, Russ George will have some measure of vindication for his ocean iron sulphate- spreading experiments. “Climate scientists” and “environmentalists” worldwide have been howling for his head.

  6. I’m confused. Are the oceans sinks or sources? CO2 warms the Earth and at the same time supposedly cause ocean acidification by an increase in the partial vapor pressure of atmospheric CO2, yet a warmer Earth causes CO2 to come out of solution and increase the amount of atmospheric CO2???? I am afraid there is something that I am not understanding. Which process is controlling, the rate of CO2 dissolving in the oceans or the rate of CO2 coming out of solution (assuming a warming Earth caused by CAGW)?

  7. [Dr Laetitia Pichevin, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said: “Iron is known to be a key nutrient for plankton, but we were surprised by the many ways in which iron affects the CO2 given off by the oceans. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment.” ]

    “this is bad news for the environment.” !!

    In that case, we’d better give them twice the cash they ask for then !!

    We must save the planet from itself

  8. Now they’ve looked at one core they will need to study 1,000s more to verify the findings, that will take years, (a lifetimes worth…. with lots of field trips) ALL grant funded !!

  9. Your “comes something we already knew” isn’t really fair.

    This research does not make the direct link between temperature and Henry’s constant which you allude to in your “soda-pop” sneer. It does present an indirect effect of warming oceans on biological CO2 sequestration. But like all studies of this nature they fail to run a laboratory experiment to test the hypothesis under controlled conditions.

  10. It supports the idea that atmospheric CO2 increases are an EFFECT of warming, not a cause.

  11. First the last XKCD comic and now this paper. Are people becoming dumber? Hey, maybe it is another effect of rising CO2 levels.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry%27s_law

    Because solubility of permanent gases usually decreases with increasing temperature at around the room temperature, the partial pressure a given gas concentration has in liquid must increase. While heating water (saturated with nitrogen) from 25 to 95 °C, the solubility will decrease to about 43% of its initial value. This can be verified when heating water in a pot; small bubbles evolve and rise long before the water reaches boiling temperature. Similarly, carbon dioxide from a carbonated drink escapes much faster when the drink is not cooled because the required partial pressure of CO2 to achieve the same solubility increases in higher temperatures. Partial pressure of CO2 in the gas phase in equilibrium with seawater doubles with every 16 K increase in temperature.

    It is 1800s Physics, for Pete’s shake.

  12. If you lived with the Edinburgh climate, you too would want to take samples from the Gulf of California.

  13. Yeah, we’ve known for over a decade that CO2 levels rise and fall as a result of temperature changes, but there is zero evidence that CO2 causes temperature change. That’s the actual evidence! This 3 minute video is VERY persuasive, spread the word about it:

  14. Thinking about it, desert dust is probably bad news either way. Hotter, drier stormier = more atmospheric desert dust -> more iron in the oceans. However this study suggests lower iron which would mean Warmer,damper, less stormy = less atmospheric desert dust -> less iron in the oceans.

  15. We simply do not know how to react phytoplankton in response to warming. We do not know (for the formulation of final conclusions) the balance of positive and negative reactions.

    Whether iron really will be, in the future, limit algae NPP?
    Laboratory experiments give different results, paleoclimatic observations give positive results (for “fertilization” iron – as the most important factor), but only for some temperature ranges.

    One of the IPCC reports (http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/101.htm):
    “Warming may increase NPP in temperate and arctic ecosystems where it can increase the length of the seasonal and daily growing cycles, but it may decrease NPP in water-stressed ecosystems …”
    “Respiratory processes are sensitive to temperature; soil and root respiration have generally been shown to increase with warming in the short term … … although evidence on longer-term impacts is conflicting …”
    “… at least in the short term, any direct effect of warming on NPP may be more than offset by an increased respiration of soil carbon caused by the effects of increased depth of soil thaw. Increased decomposition, may, however also increase nutrient mineralisation and thereby indirectly stimulate NPP …”

    Moreover, even in the most “alarmist” (here – the ocean) the paper, we have such requests:

    “Phytoplankton in warmer equatorial waters grow much faster than their cold-water cousins.”

    “They were able to show that phytoplankton have adapted to local temperatures.”

    “Future models that incorporate genetic variability within species will allow us to determine whether particular species can adapt,” says Klausmeier, “or whether they will face extinction.”
    (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025161747.htm)

    “In particular, the rate of protein synthesis strongly increases under high temperatures …”
    (http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n11/full/nclimate1989.html)

    So here decides genetics …
    The genetics of the best (though of course not enough) has been examined by Dr Jim Provan (http://pure.qub.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/jim-provan(83fccf9f-3463-40d8-b9a7-a30476dc2c88)/publications.htmlg)

    The conclusions from two of his papers are probably the most important here:

    “… current patterns of genetic variation across the ranges of Northern North Atlantic species, highlight the fact that the majority of these species do indeed harbour a disproportionate level of genetic diversity in rear-edge populations …” (2013)
    [potentially ] “… loss of these rear-edge populations as a result of ongoing climate change will have a major effect on the overall genetic diversity of the species …” (2012)

  16. Gosh almighty! Does that mean CO2 is released by oceans as the temperature increases!? Well there’s a lot of ocean out there. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really me that’s responsible for all this planetary destruction. What shall we do? Why don’t we call upon the governments of the world, the UN and the quangos to cover up the oceans with aluminium foil and save the planet from warming?

  17. Remember how CO2 is dissolved in the oceans; as calcium or magnesium bicarbonate which is not stable in warm water. So, in warm shallow seas, the bicarbonate breaks down to calium or magnesium carbonate which precipitates out and CO2 gas is released. So half the ci2 is released as a gas and half is sequestered.

  18. This lower concentration of silicon an iron in plankton remains wasn’t just a result of greater amounts of plankton during an abundant warm phase? Could there not be a simple equation of Earth warms up = more life = silicon and iron supplies spread over larger population?

  19. If warming climates lower iron levels !!

    Dr Jean-Baptiste Sallée, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the British Antarctic Survey, said: “We are really excited to make this discovery because until now we didn’t know the physical processes allowing iron to reach the ocean surface and maintain biological activity. The combination of strong winds and intense heat loss in winter strongly mixes the ocean surface and the mixing reaches deep iron reservoir.”

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-03-southern-ocean-iron-insight-climate.html#jCp

    There is a deep iron reservoir in the oceans, it comes to the surface due to intense heat loss in winter.
    If ocean temps are rising is the intense heat loss in winter intensifying ? More mixing more ‘grub’ for carbon munching plankton ! The food chain will be happy!

  20. CO2, which is a monster of nature (more like a human product), and thus captured the attention of the scientific community and conquered the people to believe that this “Frankenstein” created by human activity, so dangerous to civilization, and we have to think of something that expelling him from the planet. But it seems that it is not so, because people do not see the logic of that CO2 can be somewhat dangerous to produce their very existence.
    How many times more to produce heat in places where CO2 is produced than he himself contains all the properties that release heat?
    Why is Earth’s atmosphere has cooled to its orbit around the sun, when the ambient temperature in which the planet passes, much lower than the lowest recorded on the surface of the earth? And so many of the same issues.
    Are these experts have tried to analyze much more powerful and important causes, which “do their duty” according to the prescribed laws of nature. CO2 seems to have a special bait to be “fall into it” they will provide enrichment to the propaganda. Prohibition of CO2 and produces gas and everything related to it. With CO2 of which may not affect the climate changes, because they are the main causes of them much stronger natural factors.

  21. “Rising global temperatures could increase the amount of carbon dioxide naturally released by the world’s oceans,… ”

    Therefore CO2 lags temperature.

    “…fuelling further climate change, a study suggests.”
    Did it do that in the past?

  22. @ fadingfool:

    your ‘simple equation’ yields a great explanation.

    And: University of Edinburgh :

    the Alma Mother of circulus vitiousus.

    brg – Hans

  23. Cheshirered says:
    June 9, 2014 at 12:42 am
    “CO2 causes ‘ocean acidification’ = BAD!
    CO2 causes a ‘warmer atmosphere’ which causes oceans to out-gas CO2 = BAD!
    Welcome yet again to the Climate Bunko Booth. ‘Heads we win, tails you lose, and EVERYTHING is due to CO2′”
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    As someone will surely point out (Mosher?), there is so much CO2 now that more will be absorbed in the oceans and more will be out-gassed into the atmosphere so the net will be an increase in both.
    Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

  24. This is amazing! We now have proof of pre-Clovis Man! And pre-Clovis Man was far more sophisticated that thought possible.

    “Scientists studied a 26,000-year-old sediment core”

    I am uncomfortable with the relevance of the concentration of silicon and iron in the fossils. Fossilization is mineral replacement. It’s possible that these fossils were produced by permineralization, such that it wasn’t 100% replacement. Regardless, some portion of the fossils is minerals NOT from the time of origin of the organisms. It can take 10,000 years for fossilization to occur. Hence, making sweeping statements about the correlation of mineral content and temperatures seems suspicious. Fossils are best used to characterize conditions millions of years ago, not 26,000.

  25. “Tom in Florida says:

    June 9, 2014 at 4:35 am ”

    The answer to those questions is; no-one knows!

  26. Thank you for explaining why “ocean acidification” is not possible….

    ….and at the same time admitting you are all idiots

    plankton needs N-P-K to make iron work…

  27. Tom in Florida says:
    June 9, 2014 at 4:35 am
    “As someone will surely point out (Mosher?), there is so much CO2 now that more will be absorbed in the oceans and more will be out-gassed into the atmosphere so the net will be an increase in both. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.”

    “So much”? It’s increased by oh, 1 part in 10,00. That’s it. And how does that feeble component compare with the fact oceans already contain orders of magnitude more CO2 than the atmosphere?

    Thus the increase – whether human caused or not, is surely massively overwhelmed by existing ocean-borne CO2. The whole thing seems to be more propaganda-spin than ‘settled’ (or even likely) science.

  28. The FIRST thing to remember about the ocean is that it is not a homogeneous system. Every variable is a local variable: temperature (affects the solubility of gases and all reaction rates), pressure (also affects the solubility of gases), motion (currents move stuff up or down, and from one region to another)
    The SECOND thing to remember about the ocean is that everything in the ocean interacts with everything else. Acid interacts with carbonate and sulfate and silicate and everything else, pH changes the form of many chemicals (carbonate-bicarbonate, silicate-metasilicate, chlorinated iron-hydroxylated iron, etc.), and temperature and pH shift the balance between alternate forms of chemicals.
    The THIRD thing to remember about the ocean is that everything on earth goes into the ocean – fresh water, sediment, minerals, rotting vegetation, industrial waste, septic waste, toxic waste, etc. – and everything that rain washes out of the atmosphere and everything the hundreds of known volcanoes on the ocean floor spew (heat, toxic metals, minerals, acid, sulfide gas) goes into the ocean.
    The FOURTH thing to remember about the ocean is that pure water vapor and gases leave the ocean by evaporation and outgassing, and solids (dead animals, plankton, lime, and silica) leave the ocean be falling to the floor and being covered with sediment, along with whatever gets stuck to the solid particles, with the result that everything that doesn’t leace the ocean gets more concentrated, and everything that does leave the ocean gets more diluted.
    If we just restrict ourselves to considering the 100 most important variables, we will have a system of 100 simultaneous non-linear differential equations, each with 100 terms, and each of the 10,000 coefficients in these equations will have a unique temperature dependence.
    We simply do not have the understanding to write those 10,000 terms, or the technology to measure all of the variables in a useful resolution to comprehensively describe the oceans. We certainly do not have the computer technology or the modelling skills to try to solve those equations.

  29. Excellent description “soda pop science”.

    It is a little odd that the warmists who usually jump in to argue against oceans recently outgassing quantities of CO2 haven’t popped in to excoriate soda popped Edinburgh.

  30. ‘Researchers found that those periods when silicon was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with relatively warm climates…’

    I picked up a bag of sand recently and was informed on the bag that according to the State of California this material causes cancer. Well, whether they like it or not, these researchers have shown us that global warming reduces the rate of cancer. Therefore, if logic follows, efforts to reduce global warming cause cancer. Spread the word!

    sarc

  31. Hmmmm. So they are saying that increased CO2 FOLLOWS warming? Wow. Who knew. Oh…wait…

  32. There is obviously no other solution, if the oceans leaches out all that toxic, dangerous and life threatening CO2 !! We HAVE TO DRAIN the Oceans. Only where do we drain them to ? Either that or we will end up with a gigantic carbonated soda fountain. What’ll we do?.. /sarc off

  33. Yes the solubility of CO2 decreases with increasing temperature. Give these guys a government grant.

  34. There is no shortage of iron and I would be surprised if the bulk of it came from the atmosphere!!! The earth’s crust is, what, 5% iron and erosion and river systems must be the biggest transporters of iron. Also, these guys are supposed to be from the department of geology. The composition of deposited materials doesn’t necessarily (and may not be expected to) remain the same over time.

    Are there any geochemists out there or in the University of Edinburgh that could have been consulted?

  35. ATheoK says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:57 am

    “It is a little odd that the warmists who usually jump in to argue against oceans recently outgassing quantities of CO2 haven’t popped in…”
    _____________________________
    The trolls have been concentrating their efforts on the last “Tol thread”. The “97% consensus” is all they have left and they are defending the claim for all they are worth, which doesn’t amount to much beyond the usual propagandist tricks.

  36. This would break my mums heart as she went there when it was known for sound science.

    James Bull

  37. “Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say their findings are the first to pinpoint the complex link between iron and other key marine elements involved in regulating atmospheric CO2 by the oceans.”

    Really? What complex link are they eluding to? Are they suggesting that through some inorganic process iron somehow keeps CO2 from degasing out of the ocean or are they suggesting that they are the first to say iron is the limiting nutrient in marine ecosystems and therefore more iron increases CaCO3 production and sequesters CO2 in the ocean?

    Are they also claiming that from studying a single core they found that higher temperature somehow decreases the amount of iron delivered to the oceans worldwide? Oh nos! Now the oceans are going to run out of iron and the Earth will become like Venus, it’s worse than we thought!

  38. “Plankton absorb CO2 from the atmosphere at the ocean surface” HAHA That’s a gem, now plankton must surface to breathe.

  39. That supports the 800 year lag between temperatures and CO2. Since runaway warming has not been an issue in the past, the negative feedbacks need to be studied more to find out what is the governing factor of CO2. That has not been done with the latest hysteria.

  40. If warming climates lower iron levels at the sea surface, as occurred in the past, this is bad news for the environment.”

    That’s no problem for post-modern science Laetitia, if climate at any time in the past is not to your liking it can easily be changed. That’s the real meaning of “climate change”.

  41. Were these fossils collected from above or below the depth of compensation? The other thing is that the depth of carbonate compensation is not vertically static through time.

  42. Yes, and if atmospheric CO2 increases warming, which increases CO2, which increases warming, and so on, you have a positive feedback loop, and the Earth would have reached CO2 and temperature saturation eons ago, as I explained here.

  43. Something important about the study area, which hopefully the researchers took into account. Anyone who is familiar with Southern Imperial County will know that in that area are found CO2 wells. It is one of the areas where CO2 is in abundance in the crust. I believe it is related to the fact that the East Pacific Rise reaches a triple junction just north of there. It is a rare instance of a spreading center being on land (due to the Colorado River’s delta having cut off that portion of the Gulf of California / Sea of Cortez leading to a dry basin). Presumably the existence of crustal CO2 is not limited to that part of the EPR and continues south down the Sea of Cortez and on out toward the Galapagos.

  44. Bart on June 9, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Yes, and if atmospheric CO2 increases warming, which increases CO2, which increases warming, and so on, you have a positive feedback loop, and the Earth would have reached CO2 and temperature saturation eons ago, as I explained here.

    Indeed our CAGW friends are constantly invoking positive feedbacks without any understanding of what they’re actually saying and what the completely impossible implications are. Sadly it does not even have to make sense, just provide a suitable mood music for the MSM to latch onto.

  45. Does anyone have a link to an experiment that can be done at home to show warming increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere?

  46. Researchers found that those periods when silicon was least abundant in ocean waters corresponded with relatively warm climates, low levels of atmospheric iron, and reduced CO2 uptake by the oceans’ plankton. Scientists had suspected that iron might have a role in enabling plankton to absorb CO2. However, this latest study shows that a lack of iron at the ocean surface can limit the effect of other key elements in helping plankton take up carbon.

    The authors are on unsafe ground when they assume that fossil concentrations of minerals like Si and Fe indicate the volume of carbon flux. As shown by tropical rain forests, carbon cycling can be very rapid and biomass high while nutrient inventory is very low. All the carbon is tied to rapidly cycling biomass.

    It is thus not safe to make claims about carbon fluxes on the basis of nutrient deposited in fossil plankton. Depletion could even mean the opposit – faster carbon flux.

  47. Cheshirered says:
    June 9, 2014 at 5:42 am
    re: Tom in Florida says:
    June 9, 2014 at 4:35 am
    {As someone will surely point out (Mosher?), there is so much CO2 now that more will be absorbed in the oceans and more will be out-gassed into the atmosphere so the net will be an increase in both. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.}

    “So much”? It’s increased by oh, 1 part in 10,00. That’s it. And how does that feeble component compare with the fact oceans already contain orders of magnitude more CO2 than the atmosphere?
    Thus the increase – whether human caused or not, is surely massively overwhelmed by existing ocean-borne CO2. The whole thing seems to be more propaganda-spin than ‘settled’ (or even likely) science.
    “So much”? It’s increased by oh, 1 part in 10,00. That’s it. And how does that feeble component compare with the fact oceans already contain orders of magnitude more CO2 than the atmosphere?
    Thus the increase – whether human caused or not, is surely massively overwhelmed by existing ocean-borne CO2. The whole thing seems to be more propaganda-spin than ‘settled’ (or even likely) science.
    ==================================================================
    Hey, I was trying to speculate on how someone might explain the contradiction of more CO2 going into the oceans to cause supposed acidification and at the same time more CO2 out-gassing from the oceans to increase temperature. My memory says that someone actually said this on this blog in another thread, it could have been Mosher or Stokes or neither. I don’t remember who.
    {apologies in advance to those two if I am wrong).

  48. Me too, Tom. I’m still stuck at the catastrophist’s ‘point’ that warming tropical oceans will ingest sufficient CO2 from the atmosphere to become acidic and obliterate tropical corals … either this study from UoE is correct or the trumped up catastrophist marine biologist that I argued the point with is just full of nachos.

  49. Last week, I had made a comment about noting that all of the Mauna Loa highest yearly rates of co2 growth coincide with peaks of El Ninos. It can also be seen that the least growth is on a La Nina peak. The prime examples are 1987/88, 2.74 and 2,24 ppm: by 1991/92 the ppm were 0.79 and .067. Also the 1997/98 Grand El Nino of 1.97 and 2.94 ppm was followed by 1999/ 2000 at 1.34 and 1.25 ppm. Those rapid fluctuations have nothing to do with human caused co2 release. To my mind, I would call this evidence that most of the increase in atmospheric co2 is being driven by natural warming processes. It was not evident before, probably due to the need for the oceans to return to a more normal range of heat load after the LIA. Then when this last surge of natural warming entered the system the co2 release turned on and has stayed on ever since.

  50. The above ppm numbers are showing the global co2 rate of growth. Mauna Loa shows 2.93 for 1998, which is followed by 0.93 in 1999, vs the 1.34 ppm global. Maybe sitting in the middle of the Pacific that difference is due to the vast expanse of the ocean, with greater intake of co2.

  51. goldminor on June 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Last week, I had made a comment about noting that all of the Mauna Loa highest yearly rates of co2 growth coincide with peaks of El Ninos. It can also be seen that the least growth is on a La Nina peak.

    No you have it quite wrong, what this shows is that ENSO is all about us and CO2. El Nino means a surge in carbon pollution from China and India, while La Ninas always coincide with mini-recession and falls in commodity prices and factory output.

    You clearly have been visiting the wrong websites and require re education if you hold the inadmissible view that anything other than human inputs to the atmosphere can affect climate. Before humans theee was no ENSO, climate was static with no tides, no wind or ocean currents, no summer or winter, no night or day…

  52. Who wants to find out which are the true causes of climate change, shall be told that he wants to get it. We discuss how to do it. REALLY IS ENOUGH discussion on CO2 as the main culprit. CO2 is sentenced to death-the electric chair, but actually, totally innocent. He does not have anything to do with climate change. CALL logic as a star witness, leave the lawyers FOR CASH accusing innocent.

  53. Given the nearly a millennium lag between change in ocean temps and change in atmospheric CO2, this is merely a minor secondary effect, and amplifier. The base question is still: what drives ocean temperature shifts?

Comments are closed.