Like the vast forests of the world, which continually suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, the planet's oceans serve as vital carbon sinks. Last year the oceans absorbed as much as 2.3 billion tons of carbon, or about one-fourth of all manmade carbon emissions. Without the action of the oceans, the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere would have flame-broiled the planet by now.
Led by Samar Khatiwala, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a team of researchers reconstructed the amount of carbon that had been annually absorbed by the oceans going back to 1765 — around the time when people began putting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. "Over time it seems the oceans are becoming less efficient at taking up manmade carbon," says Khatiwala. "That's concerning over the long term."
Scientists have long known that the ocean is a major carbon sink, but it's been difficult to tease out how much of that carbon comes from man-made processes. Khatiwala and his colleagues solved that problem by mathematically charting seawater temperature, salinity and other measures, and then worked backwards to infer how much man-made carbon was being circulated from the surface and through the deeper waters. They estimated that there are currently 150 billion tons of carbon from man-made sources currently sequestered in the ocean — so much that if all that gas were to be released back into the atmosphere, it would raise carbon concentrations levels to 460 parts per million, already higher than what many scientists believe is the upper safe limit.It is always interesting to note how the media misunderstands science. Scientists look at data and propose theories, and then work towards proving them to be correct. Until it is proven by hard data, a theory is just a (well) educated guess.
How do I know that Time doesn't understand that this explanation of ocean carbon is a theory? Because the word never appears any where in the article.