The oceanic sink for anthropogenic CO2

Science. 2004 Jul 16;305(5682):367-71. doi: 10.1126/science.1097403.


Using inorganic carbon measurements from an international survey effort in the 1990s and a tracer-based separation technique, we estimate a global oceanic anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) sink for the period from 1800 to 1994 of 118 +/- 19 petagrams of carbon. The oceanic sink accounts for approximately 48% of the total fossil-fuel and cement-manufacturing emissions, implying that the terrestrial biosphere was a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere of about 39 +/- 28 petagrams of carbon for this period. The current fraction of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions stored in the ocean appears to be about one-third of the long-term potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atmosphere
  • Calcification, Physiologic
  • Calcium Carbonate / analysis
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Industry*
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Temperature


  • Fossil Fuels
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon
  • Calcium Carbonate