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Southern Ocean's Role in Heat and Carbon Absorption



  Jan 24, 2024

Southern Ocean's Role in Heat and Carbon Absorption


1. Why is the Southern Ocean significant in absorbing heat?

The Southern Ocean's unique ability to absorb heat is largely due to its geographic setting. Strong westerly winds around Antarctica, combined with an uninterrupted ocean expanse, facilitate continuous upwelling of cold water. This cold water, moving northward, efficiently absorbs heat from the warmer atmosphere. The absorbed heat is then transported into the ocean's interior, particularly around 45-55°S latitude.

2. How does the Southern Ocean contribute to CO2 absorption?

The Southern Ocean plays a pivotal role in CO2 absorption through a process involving upwelling and phytoplankton activity. Cold water, which rises from the deep ocean to the surface, has a higher capacity to dissolve and absorb gases like CO2. Phytoplankton at the surface utilize this CO2 for photosynthesis. The cold water, now enriched with CO2, sinks back, effectively removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

3. Why is cold water crucial in the ocean's CO2 absorption process?

Cold water is more efficient at dissolving and absorbing gases compared to warm water. This property makes the Southern Ocean, with its vast expanses of chilly waters, extremely effective in absorbing atmospheric CO2. In fact, it's estimated that about 40 percent of the human-produced CO2 absorbed by the world's oceans is initially taken in by the Southern Ocean.

4. What makes the Southern Ocean one of the most important carbon sinks on Earth?

The Southern Ocean's efficiency in absorbing CO2, a significant greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere makes it one of the planet's most vital carbon sinks. The combination of its cold waters, continuous upwelling, and the presence of phytoplankton all contribute to this process, playing a key role in mitigating the impacts of human-induced climate change. The Southern Ocean's functions in heat and CO2 absorption are integral to understanding its impact on global climate patterns and the overall health of our planet.

SRIRAM’s


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