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Arctic land and seas account for up to 25 percent of world’s carbon sink 10/14/09
11/02/2009 | Marilyn Sigman, Alaska SeaGrant/MAP
Tags: Climate Change, Changing Arctic Sea Ice, Arctic Ocean, Carbon Cycling,

New study shows that Arctic has potential to alter Earth’s climate.

University of Alaska Press Release, FAIRBANKS, Alaska

According to a new study, ecologists estimate that Arctic lands and oceans are responsible for up to 25 percent of the global net sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Under current predictions of global warming, this Arctic sink could be diminished or reversed, potentially accelerating predicted rates of climate change. The study is published in the journal Ecological Monographs.
In their review paper, David McGuire of the Institute of Arctic Biology and Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his colleagues show that the Arctic has been a carbon sink since the end of the last Ice Age, which over time has accounted for between zero and 25 percent, or up to about 800 million metric tons, of the global carbon sink. On average, says McGuire, the Arctic accounts for 10-15 percent of the Earth’s carbon sink. But the rapid rate of climate change in the Arctic – about twice that of lower latitudes – could eliminate the sink and possibly make the Arctic a source of carbon dioxide.


A. David McGuire, professor of ecology, Institute of Arctic Biology, Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Alaska Fairbanks, ffadm@uaf.edu, 907-474-6242.

Daniel Hayes, post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, djhayes@alaska.edu, 907-474-2414.

Marie Gilbert, information officer, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, megilbert@alaska.edu, 907-474-7412.

<< NOAA's 2009 Arctic Report Card 11/2/09 Back to Blogs - Home Impacts of Climate Change Coming Faster and Sooner: New Science Report Underlines Urgency for Governments to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen 9/24/09 >>