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Scientists have been overestimating the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the world's oceans, according to new research.

In a study in this week's issue of Science, a team of researchers led by Ben McNeil from Princeton University, United States, estimate the ocean's uptake of carbon dioxide produced by human activities over the past two decades using a new technique based on oceanic observations of chlorofluorocarbons.

Their results suggest that amount of carbon dioxide soaked up by the ocean has increased over the last two decades, but at a lower rate than other models have predicted. The results have implications for predictions of climate change, which rely on determining how much of the carbon dioxide produced by fossil-fuel burning is absorbed by the ocean and how much remains in the atmosphere.

Reference: Science 299, 235 (2003)

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