Five Decades of Studying CO2 at Sea : Takahashi Honored for Pioneering Measurements

June 23, 2009


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The oceans play a central role in cycling carbon dioxide into and out of the atmosphere, and thus an  essential role in regulating climate. Taro Takahashi , a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has spent the last five decades measuring this process, and the April issue of the journal Deep Sea Research II is dedicated to him for this pioneering work.

"His work is the basis for accurately predicting future concentrations of carbon dioxide, a prerequisite to predict and mitigate global warming" said colleague Bob Anderson , a geochemist at Lamont.

Takahashi came to Lamont in 1957, after finishing his PhD at Columbia University. Lamont’s founding director, Maurice "Doc" Ewing, sent him on a 10-month expedition to measure the ocean’s uptake of carbon. Takahashi would later pinpoint where carbon was being released, and where it was being stored--the oceanic sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon. He would also explain the causes for this uneven distribution. Climate modelers still use his measurements in making predictions about future carbon dioxide levels and climate.

"He initiated the methods we all use," said Richard Feely, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studies El Nino and carbon cycling. "Just about everyone who has worked with him has benefited from his wisdom and advice."

Takahashi continues to do research at Lamont. "Since my ocean study was (and is) conducted entirely at Lamont with Lamont colleagues, I would like to share this honor and recognition with the entire Observatory," he wrote after the dedication was announced.