Through global climate studies and atmospheric surveys, scientists now know that the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels has the potential to alter global climate. The oceans represent a key sink for anthropogenic CO2 (Cant), but their capacity as a sink and how this sink has evolved over time have yet to be fully determined. Further, uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere directly influences the world's oceans by, for instance, increasing acidity, but how future changes will evolve is also poorly known.
The reason little is known about oceanic Cant is because only a small percentage of the ocean has been tracked by research cruises that collect carbon data. Even data from those cruises lack the standardization needed to compare different results over time. To help fix this, a collection of interior ocean carbon data has recently been published: The Carbon Dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean (CARINA) data collection contains information from 188 oceanographic cruises and represents a major boost of readily available, high-quality, and uniform data. A companion effort, the Pacific Ocean Interior Carbon (PACIFICA) data collection, will increase global coverage by providing standardized products from the Pacific Ocean.