The ocean exerts a considerable influence on the atmosphere by absorbing a large fraction of fossil fuel-produced carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide solubility in seawater will decrease as the oceans warm, reducing the solubility pump, which drives the air-sea flux of carbon dioxide. Abrupt climate change scenarios expect that the thermohaline circulation of the ocean will diminish, thereby decreasing the efficiency of the biological pump, which transports carbon from the surface to the deep. These changes require complex carbon cycle models for future climate predictions, whose accuracy can be determined only through measurements of ocean-atmosphere carbon dioxide fluxes to balance the global carbon budget.
Yearly Carbon dioxide fluxes between the atmosphere and the ocean, referred to non -“El Nino” conditions (1995). The blue colour refers to negatives fluxes, i.e. to sinks of carbon dioxides. The North Atlantic is the area where the sink of CO2 is larger.
Studies examining the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle are currently being conducted on the Marine Institute's research vessel Celtic Explorer. In collaboration with the School of Physics of the National University of Galway (NUIG), we are measuring the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the ocean. The instrument involved in the study operates by drawing seawater from the ship's intake and then stripping all the gases which are dissolved.
With this study, we will quantify how much carbon dioxide is dissolved in Irish waters, and how much it contributes to the uptake of greenhouse gases.