About a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean. That global ocean carbon sink has a value of over 250 billion Euros per year, using the current price set by the European Union Emissions Trading System. There is therefore a strong economic argument for an observing system that can inform, in near-real time, how the ocean carbon sink is evolving.
However, major uncertainties about that sink’s estimate, its future efficiency, and the spatial details in Europe’s seas and ocean make strategic policy decisions on this topic rather precarious. Our capacities to monitor, quantify, understand, project and assess ocean carbon fluxes are patchy, both in the open ocean and in coastal waters.
At its 25th Meeting in November 2021, the JPI Oceans Management Board approved the Scoping Action on Ocean Carbon Capacities to formally become a new JPI Oceans Joint Action. The full title of the Joint Action is reflective of its mission of ‘Reducing uncertainties of climate-ocean interactions and the ocean’s buffering capacity for CO2’.
Under the leadership of Norway, 12 JPI Oceans member countries nominated 27 scientific experts to scope out the initial idea for transferring it into a Knowledge Hub. The experts developed an Action Plan which will be further discussed in the coming months. Currently, the focus is on four geographical regions and three topical scopes including infrastructure sharing, negative emission technologies, and model synthesis.
The new Joint Action is already closely connected to ongoing activities and initiatives like the Global Ocean Observing System, G7 Future of the Seas and Oceans Initiative, International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project, Integrated Ocean Carbon Research Report, and Canadian efforts on the North Atlantic biogeochemical carbon pump.
On 21 and 22 of October 2021, a virtual scoping workshop set the scene with perspectives from ongoing European and international initiatives and activities. The JPI Oceans Expert Group on Ocean Carbon Capacities then presented their ideas for activities going forward. Finally, the science-policy representatives from the participating countries provided feedback and comments on that Action Plan.
For more insights, you can take a look at the meeting report, the presentations, and the recording of presentations.