What is it about?

In this work, the authors model the oceans through an innovative conceptual box model and include actual data which enables one to predict the temporal evolution of the average salinity and aqueous CO2 content of each of the oceans. The effects of rising atmospheric temperature are included, and ocean carbon sinks and sources are identified, and the question of whether particular specific locations of oceanic carbon sinks evolve with time or remain static spatially, is addressed. It is shown how the flow of the Amazon into the North Atlantic ocean acts as a critical climate change parameter, and used to explain differences between paleoclimatic and current day ocean patterns, with the model explaining climate changes in the late Miocene epoch.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This work is important because it is a conceptual model that provides substantial new insights and not only predicts trends in the evolution of the salinity & carbon content of the oceans as a function of time, with temperature also being included as a function of time, but also identifies potential locations of ocean carbon sinks & sources, shows how they could evolve spatially with time, and how major freshwater flows like the Amazon river can act as critical controllers of climate. It is known that geological changes in the Andes caused a changed flow of the Amazon during the Miocene. It is shown how an altered Amazon flow pre-Miocene, gives rise to different carbon sink distributions and, as a consequence, different global climate patterns. These methods can hence be used as a procedure for modelling global climates over geological epochs. It is also seen how the resultant changes in the North Atlantic get reflected in startling changes in the Indian Ocean, indicating a close coupled behaviour between the two. The work also predicts, on the basis of stability analysis of the system equations, salinity oscillations between the Southern and South Atlantic Oceans. The model predictions also seem to be in broad agreement with observations previously reported in the literature. Since this a conceptual model not burdened excessively by details, it is easier to trace cause and effect, which is not generally possible in very complex systems, as typified by global climate systems.


What this paper's conceptual nonlinear model does is to try and detect the broad effects & features observed in the big picture of ocean carbon sink evolution & climate change. The paper attempts to capture relationships and the cause-and-effect linkages in gross changes in the oceans with respect to certain limited variables of interest, by simplifying the system extremely. It does not model the details & intricacies of ocean dynamics, as that is not the focus or intent of the work. This approach seems useful as the model not only predicts trends in the evolution of the salinity & carbon content of the oceans as a function of time, with temperature change also being included, but also several features of the ocean carbon sink system mentioned above.

Balakrishnan Ashok
International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB)

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The ocean carbon sinks and climate change, Chaos An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, October 2023, American Institute of Physics,
DOI: 10.1063/5.0164196.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page