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Arctic Sea ice helps balancing CO2 level

Arctic Sea ice helps balancing CO2 level

London: Arctic Sea ice removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and if Arctic Sea ice is reduced further, we will face an increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2, says a study.

Because of global warming, more and more parts of Arctic Sea ice melt in the summer and when these freeze over in the winter, the ice is thinner.

As the Arctic summers get warmer, we may see an acceleration in global warming as reduced sea ice in the Arctic will remove less CO2 from the atmosphere, the researchers said.

"If our results are representative, then sea ice plays a greater role than expected, and we should take this into account in future global CO2 budgets," said Dorte Haubjerg Soegaard from Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, University of Southern Denmark.

It was known for long that the Earth's oceans could absorb huge amounts of CO2 and it was thought that ocean areas covered by ice were not capable of such absorption given their impenetrable nature.

"However, this is not true. New research shows that sea ice in the Arctic draws large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean," Haubjerg Soegaard added.

The chemical processes in sea level have a deeper impact on the ability to remove CO2 than biological processes, showed researchers.

"In summer, when the sea ice melts, calcium carbonate dissolves, and CO2 is needed for this process. Thus, CO2 gets drawn from the atmosphere into the ocean - and therefore CO2 gets removed from the atmosphere," Haubjerg Soegaard explained.

Frost flowers, flower-like ice formations formed on the surface of newly formed sea ice, in the winter hold extremely high concentrations of calcium carbonate, which can have a further significant impact on the potential CO2 uptake in the Arctic, found Dorte Haubjerg Soegaard.

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