National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

The oceanic sink for anthropogenic CO2

Sabine, C.L., R.A. Feely, N. Gruber, R.M. Key, K. Lee, J.L. Bullister, R. Wanninkhof, C.S. Wong, D.W.R. Wallace, B. Tilbrook, F.J. Millero, T.-H. Peng, A. Kozyr, T. Ono, and A.F. Rios

Science, 305(5682), 367–371, doi: 10.1126/science.1097403 (2004)

Using inorganic carbon measurements from an international survey effort in the 1990s and a tracer-based separation technique, we estimate a global oceanic anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) sink for the period from 1800 to 1994 of 118 ± 19 petagrams of carbon. The oceanic sink accounts for ~48%of the total fossil-fuel and cement-manufacturing emissions, implying that the terrestrial biosphere was a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere of about 39 ± 28 petagrams of carbon for this period. The current fraction of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions stored in the ocean appears to be about one-third of the long-term potential.

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