The ocean generates 50% of the oxygen the planet needs, absorbs 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90% of the excess heat generated by these emissions. It is not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest ‘carbon sink’ – a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change (UN source). The ocean is central to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing the Earth’s climate. However, increasing greenhouse gas emissions have affected the health of the ocean – warming and acidifying seawater – causing detrimental changes to life under water and on land, and reducing the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide and safeguard life on the planet.
According to current estimates, the Arctic Ocean accounts for 5 % to 14 % of the total global oceanic carbon uptake (Bates and Mathis, 2009; Schuster et al., 2013; MacGilchrist et al., 2014; Yasunaka et al., 2016, 2018). Longer open-water seasons are expected to increase Arctic oceanic carbon uptake in the near term, with complex feedbacks altered by climate change (Lannuzel et al., 2020; Steiner et al., 2015; Ouyang et al., 2020), but the scarcity of biogeochemical observations in the Arctic Ocean prevents reliable calculations of carbon flux (e.g., Landschützer et al., 2014), as well as proper validation of climate models in the region.(Adapted from research article by Richaud B et al (2023): Underestimation of oceanic carbon uptake in the Arctic Ocean: ice melt as predictor of the sea ice carbon pump (copernicus.org))
The two EU-funded projects EU4OceanObs and ECOTIP are collaborating to improve biogenic data products to advance ocean carbon sequestration modelling in the Arctic for better understanding and prediction of the Arctic Ocean’s oceanic carbon uptake in a changing climate, which in turn will allow us to predict ecosystem impacts and support action to protect this vulnerable ecosystem. This topic is a cross-cutting activity in the EU4OceanObs G7 FSOI component, which works to augment the capacity of marine life monitoring and forecasting, improve monitoring and understanding and prediction of global ocean carbon cycle and enhance Arctic Ocean observing and monitoring. ECOTIP – Ecological tipping cascades in the Arctic Seas is a flagship Horizon 2020 research project focusing on understanding and predicting changes in Arctic marine biodiversity and implications for two vitally important marine ecosystem services: fisheries production, which is the economic lifeblood of many Arctic communities, and carbon sequestration, which has important feedbacks to the global climate.