The atmosphere and oceans have a tempestuous relationship, with gases and molecules sloshing back and forth to create a global remix of environmental conditions. And it isn’t only a rapidly changing climate that is having a profound effect on the world’s oceans.
UC Irvine researchers have found that the hole in the protective ozone layer over the Antarctic – a discovery that itself grew from Nobel Prize-winning work at UCI – appears to be altering wind patterns over the southern hemisphere. This, in turn, is changing the way the southern oceans “breathe” – how they absorb atmospheric gases, distribute them to widely scattered points, and vent them again into the atmosphere.
The same researchers also have examined data on the global ocean’s absorption of human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, comparing it closely with computer models. Their careful groundtruthing could lead to improvements in the models; while they matched the data on global scales, the models diverged from the data by as much as 50 percent on smaller, regional scales.