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The $500 Billion Question: What’s The Value Of Studying The Ocean’s Biological Carbon Pump?

The $500 Billion Question: What’s the Value of Studying the Ocean’s Biological Carbon Pump?

The ocean plays an invaluable role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, taking in somewhere between to 12 gigatons (billion tons) annually. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how much carbon is captured and stored or how increasing CO2 emissions will affect this process in the future.

By: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Published September 15, 2020

The ocean plays an invaluable role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, taking in somewhere between five to 12 gigatons (billion tons) annually.

Due to limited research, scientists aren’t sure exactly how much carbon is captured and stored—or sequestered—by the ocean each year or how increasing CO2 emissions will affect this process in the future.

A new paper published in the journal Science of the Total Environment from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) puts an economic value on the benefit of research to improve knowledge of the biological carbon pump and reduce the uncertainty of ocean carbon sequestration estimates.

Using a climate economy model that factors in the social costs of carbon and reflects future damages expected as a consequence of a changing climate, lead author Di Jin of WHOI’s Marine Policy Center places the value of studying ocean carbon sequestration at $500 billion.

“The paper lays out the connections between the benefit of scientific research and decision making,” says Jin. “By investing in science, you can narrow the range of uncertainty and improve a social cost-benefit assessment.”

Better understanding of the ocean’s carbon sequestration capacity will lead to more accurate climate models, providing policymakers with the information they need to establish emissions targets and make plans for a changing climate, Jin adds.

See More [ECO Magazine]

 

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