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As oceans warm, microbes could pump more CO2 back into air, study warns

The world's oceans soak up about a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans pump into the air each year—a powerful brake on the greenhouse effect. In addition to purely physical and chemical processes, a large part of this is taken up by photosynthetic plankton as they incorporate carbon into their bodies. When plankton die, they sink, taking the carbon with them. Some part of this organic rain will end up locked into the deep ocean, insulated from the atmosphere for centuries or more. But what the ocean takes, the ocean also gives back. Before many of the remains get very far, they are consumed by aerobic bacteria. And, just like us, those bacteria respire by taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. Much of that regenerated CO2 thus ends up back in the air.  A new study suggests that CO2 regeneration may become faster in many regions of the world as the oceans warm with changing climate.   Read more...

 

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