Member Highlight: Carbon Dioxide From Silicon Valley Affects The Chemistry Of Monterey Bay

2019-04-29T14:19:05+00:00 April 29, 2019|
(Credit: Katie Holmes/NOAA)

(Credit: Katie Holmes/NOAA)

(From Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute / By Kim Fulton-Bennett) — MBARI researchers recently measured high concentrations of carbon dioxide in air blowing out to sea from cities and agricultural areas, including Silicon Valley. In a new paper in PLOS ONE, they calculate that this previously undocumented process could increase the amount of carbon dioxide dissolving into coastal ocean waters by about 20 percent.

Extending their calculations to coastal areas around the world, the researchers estimate that this process could add 25 million additional tons of carbon dioxide to the ocean each year, which would account for roughly one percent of the ocean’s total annual carbon dioxide uptake. This effect is not currently included in calculations of how much carbon dioxide is entering the ocean because of the burning of fossil fuels.

Less than half of the carbon dioxide that humans have released over the past 200 years has remained in the atmosphere. The remainder has been absorbed in almost equal proportions by the ocean and terrestrial ecosystems. How quickly carbon dioxide enters the ocean in any particular area depends on a number of factors, including the wind speed, the temperature of the water, and the relative concentrations of carbon dioxide in the surface waters and in the air just above the sea surface.

MBARI has been measuring carbon dioxide concentrations in the air and seawater of Monterey Bay almost continuously since 1993. But it wasn’t until 2017 that researchers began…

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