Society must advance responsible research, development, and field testing of ocean-based carbon dioxide removal techniques to determine their potential to help restore the climate and the ocean.
Current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide caused primarily by the production and use of fossil fuels are substantially higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years. These current levels have warmed the planet by about 1.1 degrees Celsius on average, with much higher increases in the polar regions. The planet is now seeing devastating effects across Earth systems—perhaps most significantly in our ocean—highlighting the urgency for increased action on climate change.
The ocean has buffered humanity and the biosphere to date from the worst effects of climate disruption by absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped on the planet by greenhouse gases and about 26 percent of all carbon dioxide pollution that otherwise would be in the air. But this has come at a great cost. The ocean is experiencing unprecedented destabilizing changes through massive warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and a host of resulting effects. These changes are further undermining the overall stability of our global climate, which is inextricably linked to ocean processes and functions.
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