What they did: For a new study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, an international research team determined how much carbon dioxide the oceans have been absorbing.
What they found : The study finds that oceans have taken more than 100 billion tons of CO2 between 1994 and 2007, which is about one-third of total emissions during that period.
- This shows the oceans roughly kept up with the ever- While the overall share of emissions absorbed by the oceans has not changed, the rate at which they absorb carbon dioxide has increased fourfold between 1
"If it was not for this absorption by the oceans, atmospheric CO2 concentration would be as much as 480 ppm and global atmospheric temperatures would be significantly warmer," study co-author Richard Feel of NOAA tells Axios
"This means that the ocean has been providing humanity with an ecosystem service that can be valued at more than $ 1 trillion."
– study co-author Nicolas Gruber of ETH Zurich tells Axios, Assuming a carbon price of $ 10 per ton of CO2.
The research also shows that ocean acidification, which occurs from chemical reactions as sea water absorbs CO2, is beginning to affect marine life well below the surface.
- Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of the ocean's surface waters has declined by about 0.11 pH units, Feely says.
- Ocean acidification poses a major threat to calcifying organisms such as sea barrels and mussels with indications that problems are already occurring in ecosystems.
Another  study published recently in Geology provides a new long-term history of how carbon has accumulated in deep-sea sediments throughout geologic time. Carbon is absorbed this way as dead diatoms and plankton descend through the water column, accumulating slowly but steadily as "sea snow" on the seafloor.
"The more acidic the ocean becomes, the smaller the volume of dead carbonate plankton shells sinking "Through the water column, which will make it to the seafloor without dissolving completely on their way down," study co-author Dietmar Muller tells Axios.
"In other words, we are continually reducing the capacity of the oceans to store atmospheric CO2 in deep-sea sediments. "