Ocean-ICU Improving Carbon Understanding
The Ocean plays a crucial role in the global C cycle, taking up approximately 25% of the CO2 we emit to the atmosphere, and thus slowing the rate of climate change. The future trajectory of this sink will affect the timing and intensity of the modifications to human processes that we need to undertake in order to stabilise atmospheric CO2 at 450ppm. Our ability to measure and model this sink is limited (evidenced by significant discrepancies between measured and modelled C uptake) with the current frontier area of research being a suite of biological processes related to higher trophic level behaviour within the so called biological C pump. This involvement of higher organisms suggests that human activities (fishing, energy and mineral extraction) has the capacity to affect the ocean C sink however we lack the ability to quantitatively link direct human pressures and ocean C storage. Ocean ICU will measure these key processes and evaluate their overall significance, transferring those that are important into models that inform the IPCC process and in this way contribute to resolving the observed model data mismatch of Ocean C sink estimates. We will take this message directly to the COP in support of the ambition the UNFCCC has to include the ocean C sink in the global stocktake. We will use the fundamental knowledge we acquire around biological systems to evaluate the ability of human interventions in the ocean to alter the carbon cycle and produce management tools that allow the tension between resource extraction and C storage to be addressed. This component will involve extensive dialogue with end users and stakeholders and lead to a Decision Support Tool that will constitute a major contribution to our ability to deliver the Green Deal by allowing us to ask questions around how to manage fisheries and resource extraction in a changed ocean in 50 years time.