Excess heat

Heating from carbon dioxide will increase five-fold over the next thousand years, according to research undertaken by scientists at Liverpool University.

Studies designed to assess the impact of current emissions between air and sea carbon exchange have found that the ocean’s ability to absorb and exchange carbon dioxide will be reduced in the future and affect the long-term heating of the planet.

The ocean naturally absorbs any extra carbon dioxide that is added to the atmosphere; however, current emission levels mean that the ocean’s natural chemistry will be altered faster than current models.

Prof Ric Williams, from the University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, said: ‘It is accepted that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations lead to an increase in heating around the globe. It was, however, unclear as to how the ocean’s ability to store carbon could affect the future overall heating of the Earth.

‘The excessive amount of carbon in the atmosphere will make the oceans more acidic and hamper the ability of the oceans to absorb further carbon from the atmosphere. The extra carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere will lead to an increase in the overall heating of our planet, making sea levels rise and exacerbating the melting of the Arctic ice caps.

‘To prevent a situation like this from happening, scientists are working to develop carbon-capture techniques, which aim to remove excess carbon from identifiable sites, such as the atmosphere around fossil fuel plants, and permanently store them away.’

Liverpool University’s Research Centre for Marine Sciences and Climate Change is working in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, Bristol University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project is being funding by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).