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Understanding the role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle

A European network of three permanent oceanic monitoring stations will contribute to improving our knowledge of the global carbon cycle.

Climate Change and Environment

Since the Industrial Age, about half of the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have been absorbed by the Earth's oceans, slowing possible changes in the global climate. The question is how much more CO2 can oceans absorb and what impact is the CO2 having on the oceanic ecosystem. To answer these and other questions, scientists need to collect and analyse data and perform modelling studies. Unfortunately, data, in particular CO2 data, is limited at best. In response, the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (EESD) Programme funded the ANIMATE project to establish semi-permanent CO2 monitoring in the North Atlantic Ocean. Equipment was installed at three different sites to measure the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) near the surface. Highly valuable time series were collected. In parallel, spatially variable surface pCO2 data was collected through the Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) Program. Finally, the ANIMATE consortium is working to provide a complete picture of the vertical profile of pCO2 by performing measurements at depth. Having demonstrated the technical feasibility and scientific value of continuous pCO2 monitoring during the project, the ANIMATE partners are seeking funding and personnel to extend the network's lifetime. The network could form an integral part of Europe's contribution to global carbon monitoring.

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