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Douglas B. Swift1
(1) West Texas Earth Resources Institute, Midland, TX

Abstract: Henry's Law and its oceanographic implications

The hydrosphere is the Earth's single greatest reservoir (35,000 BMT) of mobile carbon fraction CO2 (cfCO2). The atmosphere holds ~740-760 BMT. Henry's Law (HL) defines the proportional relationship between a soluble gas (e.g., CO2) and a liquid (water) across a gas/liquid interface (atmosphere/hydrosphere boundary). The law is temperature dependent; cool liquid absorbs more gas than warm liquid. Throughout the geologic record. large volumes of CO2 have been immobilized through HL driven carbonate deposition.

Application of HL explains several anomalies in the recent atmospheric record, including: (1) The 'missing' CO2 of the carbon budget. Anthropogenic sources generate ~6-7 BMT of cfCO2, annually. Atmospheric cfCO2 has only grown at a rate of ~3.8 BMT, annually; (2) Analysis of ice core data clearly demonstrates concentration of atmospheric CO2 trapped in ice, following temperature changes, rather than driving them; and (3) Global temperature drop (1992-1993) following the eruption of Mount Pinatuba, is associated with an anomalous deceleration in the growth of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Presently, climate models do not directly incorporate HL and its derivative effects on heterogeneous circulating oceanic water masses, with their substantial temperature ranges. In a solar-forced warming scenario, increased oceanic temperatures must drive an increase in atmospheric CO2. Both anthropogenic and HL additions to atmospheric CO2 content must be taken into consideration. Application of HL explains anomalies, while raising questions concerning possible disadvantages of natural and/or anthropogenic oceanic sequestration of CO2. It also raises questions concerning present applied thermal forcing values for atmospheric CO2.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90914©2000 AAPG Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana