Skip to main content

Ocean Carbon Capacities

The JPI Oceans Knowledge Hub on Ocean Carbon Capacities addresses the role of the Ocean in taking up carbon from the atmosphere.


The JPI Oceans Knowledge Hub on Ocean Carbon Capacities, initiated in 2020, has entered its second phase with Norway as the lead country and Denmark and Germany as co-leads. The Knowledge Hub brings together experts from JPI Oceans' member countries to address the Ocean's role in absorbing atmospheric carbon.




  • Ongoing



Nov 2023 - Dec 2026

Type of action

Knowledge Hub

Lead country


Co-lead country


Participating countries


The JPI Oceans Knowledge Hub on Ocean Carbon Capacities focuses on the Ocean's role in absorbing carbon emissions. It assimilates around 25% of anthropogenic CO2, a reversal of the pre-industrial revolution flux. The uptake regulates the timing, scale, and cost of mitigation and adaptation measures, making it crucial to measure its strength and understand its mechanisms. The Knowledge Hub addresses three key areas: the supply of reference materials, the undersampling of surface CO2 concentrations in crucial Ocean areas, and the need for regular audits.

Addressing these areas will make key contributions to a wide range of activities undertaken within Europe and globally to strengthen Ocean carbon observation and the quality and quantity of advice being offered to policymakers regarding the status of the Ocean CO2 sink.


As an outcome of this networking and information exchange, the JPI Oceans Knowledge Hub on Ocean Carbon Capacities will result in the following outcomes linked to the three core areas:

  • An implementation plan for a European Hub for Ocean carbon reference materials produced in consultation with the science community, funding agencies and metrological laboratories that can be implemented with a target date of producing new reference materials in 2025.
  • New observing systems installed on research vessels in 2024, with new data flowing to the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) in 2025 in time for inclusion in the Global Carbon budget in 2026.
  • An evaluation of the state of surface Ocean CO2 observation in Europe in 2024 with annual updates thereafter. The updates will provide recommendations for follow-up actions that JPI Oceans or other players can take.
  • The Knowledge Hub will contribute to and draw support from the current broad range of national actions underway in Ocean carbon cycle science. 

  • The Knowledge Hub will connect small-scale initiatives by creating a European reference material production capacity and exploring potential solutions, contributing to a continental-scale solution.

  • Using a collaborative approach by installing new observing systems on research vessels will help address key observation gaps and enable the JPI Oceans' countries to work together while allowing each country to progress at its own pace and utilise its resources. Additionally, this approach will enable JPI Oceans' countries to report data regularly, including new data flowing to SOCAT for inclusion in the Global Carbon Budget. 

  • The Knowledge Hub will play a crucial role in various initiatives across Europe and worldwide aimed at enhancing the monitoring of Ocean carbon and improving the accuracy and amount of guidance provided to policymakers on the state of the Ocean CO2 sink.

Why is this important?

The ocean assimilates approximately 25% of the CO2 we emit into the atmosphere, termed anthropogenic CO2. This represents a reversal of the natural pre-industrial revolution flux, i.e. before industrialisation, the ocean was a small net source of CO2 to the atmosphere. The future evolution of this uptake will partially regulate the timing, scale and cost of mitigation and adaptation measures. Hence, considerable interest is in measuring its strength and understanding the mechanisms that control it. Net Ocean CO2 uptake is the slight difference between two much larger terms: gross uptake from the atmosphere and emissions to the atmosphere, which are geographically and temporally segregated. Hence, measuring net uptake requires a dense measuring network, data management, synthesis and reporting activities. This so-called ‘value chain’ exists, with its ultimate end product being an estimate of ocean carbon uptake delivered to the COP each year via the Global Carbon Budget. In recent years, a divergence has emerged between the data-based estimate of ocean carbon uptake and parallel model estimates, with the scale of the divergence being equivalent in size to annual European CO2 emissions. The JPI Oceans Knowledge Hub on Ocean Carbon Capacities will address these uncertainties, which have become a central theme of contemporary Ocean carbon cycle science. 

Knowledge Hub Experts

The Scientific Lead Expert of the Ocean Carbon Capacities Knowledge Hub is Richard Sanders, NORCE, Norway. 

  • Griet Neukermans, University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Thanos Gkritzalis, VLIZ, Belgium
  • Peter Landschützer, VLIZ, Belgium
  • Toste Tanhua, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany
  • Constantine Parinos, HCMR, Greece
  • Eva Krasakopoulou, AEGEAN, Greece
  • Louisa Giannoudi, HCMR, Greece
  • Alexandra Gogou, HCMR, Greece
  • Constantin Frangoulis, HCMR, Greece
  • Kostas Tsiaras, HCMR, Greece
  • Evin Mc Govern, Marine Institute, Ireland
  • Peter Croot, NUI Galway, Ireland
  • Richard Sanders, NORCE, Norway
  • Marcos Morente Fontela, UALG, Portugal