From: Michael Reilly, Discovery News
Published September 1, 2009 08:06 AM

Oceans Could Absorb Much More CO2

Earth's oceans are vast reservoirs of carbon dioxide (CO2) with the potential to control the pace of global warming.

It all hinges on the fate of marine "snow" -- a constant sprinkle of carbon-rich bits that flutter down from the sea surface to the cold depths below. And according to a new study, the flurries could suck much more of the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere than previously thought.


Each year, phytoplankton floating in the seas' big blue expanse drink in 10 billion tons of carbon from the air (humans emit about 8 billion tons). Their shells and excretions rain down from the surface, providing a feast for creatures that recycle up to 90 percent of the carbon back into the water as CO2. Only a light dusting lands on the ocean floor.

But small changes in this carbon system have big implications for climate.

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