• Southern Ocean around Antarctica loaded with carbon dioxide
• Human activity is the main culprit, according to researchers
• Southern Ocean is one of the world's biggest reservoirs of carbon
• Research indicates it has been saturated with CO2 since the 1980s
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is so loaded with carbon dioxide that it can barely absorb any more, so more of the gas will stay in the atmosphere to warm up the planet, scientists reported Thursday.
Human activity is the main culprit, said researcher Corinne Le Quere, who called the finding very alarming.
The phenomenon wasn't expected to be apparent for decades, Le Quere said in a telephone interview from the University of East Anglia in Britain.
"We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so," she said. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. "So I find this really quite alarming."