Every year mankind’s GHG emissions total is 10 billion Teq CO. Half of these emissions are stocked in the atmosphere and contribute to strengthen greenhouse effect. The other half is absorbed by carbon sinks: forests and oceans. Oceans absorb almost half of the 5 Gigatons emitted every year and the Southern Ocean absorb half of them by itself. Basically, the Southern Ocean alone absorb 25% of our GHG emissions. That is why it is one of the most important pieces of the global weather puzzle. It explains why so many climatologists and oceanographists have taken an interest in it.
Oceans don’t just absorb carbon dioxide. They also supply oxygen and in great quantities, through photosynthesis by aquatic algae and other organisms. These organisms are called phytoplankton and produce approximatively 60 percent of Earth’s oxygen.
Unfortunately, the more levels of CO2 increase, the more Oceans’ PH drop, leading to devastating global consequences. Oceans’ acidification has increased by 26% since the pre-industrial area, directly affecting marine ecosystems. Equally worrisome, is the fact that as the oceans continue to absorb more CO2, their capacity as a carbon storehouse could diminish. Oceans and particularly the Southern Ocean are of vital interest for climate change mitigation. Undoubtedly they will be tabled for discussion during the COP21 in Paris.