It is no news that we live in a society where flat-Earthers and those who genuinely believe dinosaurs did not exist still roam the Earth, despite all evidence from outer space pictures and fossil records. No wonder people are so suspicious about things they cannot see or experience within their lifetime. However, there is one process that even the most skeptical of the skeptics (e.g. Donald Trump) cannot ignore and that is Anthropogenic Climate Change.
The first climate change reports have drawn attention to how a continued rise in atmospheric CO2 will not only affect ecosystems but also hinder human welfare, for example, via extreme weather events. Perhaps, thanks to these short-lived bursts of tornadoes and heat-waves people have started to realize the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. On that note, one thing is certain: efforts to try to reduce CO2 emissions and increase the use of alternative energies are already on the rise. This led to an increase in support of research aimed at understanding mitigation in terms of its lasting effects and foreseeing the extent of human-induced disruption in natural cycles.
To try to understand how the Earth-System would respond to such changes, which are mainly caused by the steep increase of greenhouse gas emissions since the pre-industrial era, scientists are now concentrating their efforts on developing Earth-System models. These models simulate Earth as a whole and are composed of modules (Atmospheric, Land, Ocean Physics, Ocean Biogeochemistry, Seabed) which are interconnected and help make the future less opaque, showing how natural cycles would be affected by climate change.
|So how would the Oceans' carbon cycle respond to a scenario where humans actually start to reduce their CO2 footprint?
How long would it take until our oceans return to their pre-industrial state?
Is there even a turning back or have we already got past the tipping point?
These are some of the questions that will be addressed as part of a study conducted at the University of Bergen and NORCE, one of Norway's largest independent research institutes. Scientists will try to understand the lasting effects of human-induced climate change in the North Atlantic through a simulation experiment using one of the most advanced Earth-System Models to date. The experiment consists of increasing atmospheric CO2 emissions at a rate of 1% per year for 140 years from its pre-industrial level of ~290 ppm followed by a mitigation scenario, i.e. a decrease in atmospheric CO2 emissions at a rate of 1% per year for another 140 years and, finally, a post-mitigation phase lasting for another 200 years.
If we are to aim for a manageable future in the framework of a Blue Economy, assessing the effects of a CO2 ramp up/down on important elements of the Ocean's carbon cycle is fundamental. Changes in pH, particulate organic carbon export to the deep ocean and seabed dissolution could profoundly alter both marine life and ecosystem services, affecting for example ocean productivity and the capability of our oceans in being life-supporting systems.