New climate culprits: Sea storms

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Published 26 January 2022 at 15.19

Domestic. Storms in the waters around Antarctica lead to large carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, a new international study shows.

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The world's southernmost ocean, the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, contains large amounts of carbon dioxide.

A new international study has examined how the sea binds and releases the carbon dioxide.

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– We show that the strong storms that often occur in the area lead to extensive carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, as the storms increase the mixture of different water layers and bring deep water with a lot of carbon dioxide to the surface. There has been a lack of knowledge about these complex processes, so the study is an important key to understanding the Southern Ocean's significance for the climate and the global carbon budget, says Sebastiaan Swart, professor of oceanography at the University of Gothenburg and co-author of the study in a press release.

Half of all carbon dioxide in the world's oceans is found in the Southern Ocean.

– This knowledge is needed to be able to make more accurate predictions about future climate change. Today's global climate models do not capture at all the interaction between sea and air when it comes to the transport of carbon dioxide, says Marcel du Plessis at the University of Gothenburg.

Examining the inaccessible and stormy waters around Antarctica for a long period is not easy , but the researchers used unique robot technology. For several months, autonomous marine robots, drones and “ocean gliders” collected data from the surface to a depth of one kilometer.