The Global Carbon Budget: Insights, impacts and lessons learnt - with Professor Corinne Le Quéré

27 June 2017 - 1:00pm
Environmental & Geographical Science Building, Studio 5
Contact Person: 
Claire van Wyk
Contact Email: 

Seminar Abstract:

With the concentration of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere now exceeding the symbolic mark of 400 parts per million, this presentation will detail what we understand of the response of the natural carbon reservoirs – the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere – to changes in atmospheric CO2. The natural reservoirs absorb more than half of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year on average. Process understanding is now sufficient to account for most of the observed mean, trend and interannual variability of the CO2 sinks. However there is a large gap in our understanding of how the sinks respond to sub-decadal climate variability. The presentation will hone in on changes in the Southern Ocean carbon sink, both looking at how intensifying wind speed affect the efficiency of the Southern Ocean CO2 sink, and at how grazing by krill changes our perspective on controlling factors of carbon export from the surface to the intermediate and deep ocean. Finally the presentation will put the response of the CO2 sinks in the larger context of the recent trends in CO2 emissions, and discuss the likely trajectory for global CO2 emissions in the context of the Paris Agreement on climate change. 


Corinne Le Quéré FRS is Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, an interdisciplinary and pan-university research institute that works to inform sustainable responses to climate change. Prof Le Quéré conducts research on the interactions among climate change, the carbon cycle, and society. Her research has contributed to understanding how climate change and variability affects the uptake of carbon by the natural carbon ’sinks', particularly in the Southern Ocean. Prof Le Quéré instigated and leads the annual update of the 'global carbon budget' as part of the Global Carbon Project, an effort to highlight the very latest data on carbon emissions and their partitioning in the environment, understand their drivers, and assist policy and actions to address climate change. Prof Le Quéré was author of multiple assessments reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She serves on the UK Committee on Climate Change and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.