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Title: Atmospheric carbon dioxide and the global carbon cycle: The key uncertainties

Conference ·
OSTI ID:5473519

The biogeochemical cycling of carbon between its sources and sinks determines the rate of increase in atmospheric CO/sub 2/ concentrations. The observed increase in atmospheric CO/sub 2/ content is less than the estimated release from fossil fuel consumption and deforestation. This discrepancy can be explained by interactions between the atmosphere and other global carbon reservoirs such as the oceans, and the terrestrial biosphere including soils. Undoubtedly, the oceans have been the most important sinks for CO/sub 2/ produced by man. But, the physical, chemical, and biological processes of oceans are complex and, therefore, credible estimates of CO/sub 2/ uptake can probably only come from mathematical models. Unfortunately, one- and two-dimensional ocean models do not allow for enough CO/sub 2/ uptake to accurately account for known releases. Thus, they produce higher concentrations of atmospheric CO/sub 2/ than was historically the case. More complex three-dimensional models, while currently being developed, may make better use of existing tracer data than do one- and two-dimensional models and will also incorporate climate feedback effects to provide a more realistic view of ocean dynamics and CO/sub 2/ fluxes. The instability of current models to estimate accurately oceanic uptake of CO/sub 2/ creates one of the key uncertainties in predictions of atmospheric CO/sub 2/ increases and climate responses over the next 100 to 200 years. 60 refs., 1 fig., 2 tabs.

Research Organization:
Oak Ridge National Lab., TN (USA)
Sponsoring Organization:
USDOE - Office of Energy Research (ER)
DOE Contract Number:
Report Number(s):
CONF-871204-4; ON: DE88005059
Resource Relation:
Conference: 8. Miami international conference on alternative energy sources, Miami Beach, FL, USA, 14 Dec 1987; Other Information: Paper copy only, copy does not permit microfiche production
Country of Publication:
United States