What we don’t know can hurt us: achieving global net zero is impossible without the ocean

The ocean is the most important global storage depot of carbon on Earth. It holds 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and soaks up more emissions than all the world’s rainforests combined. But the biology, chemistry and physics of the biggest carbon sink on the planet are changing - and we don’t know exactly how much.

Climate estimates do not include ocean changes and therefore have incomplete data. And yet, inexplicably, the North Atlantic’s vital carbon-absorbing function remains critically under-observed.

This gap is an unacceptable risk and represents potentially the most significant miscalculation of global climate change policy by the numbers.  

The Ocean Frontier Institute has a solution. A focused ocean observation effort will provide vital monitoring and offer accurate measurement of the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon. Such an exemplar would allow decision makers to benefit from near real time assessment of how the ocean is changing the global carbon budget. Data produced will also create the scientific baseline to measure the effectiveness of innovative technologies including Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). For governments and financial institutions, it is essential that investments are focused in the best place to ensure climate targets are met.

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