Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 9, 4819-4833, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Nov 2012
Changes in column inventories of carbon and oxygen in the Atlantic Ocean
T. Tanhua1 and R. F. Keeling2 1Department of Marine Biogeochemistry, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
2Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
Abstract. Increasing concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the interior ocean are expected as a direct consequence of increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. This extra DIC is often referred to as anthropogenic carbon (Cant), and its inventory, or increase rate, in the interior ocean has previously been estimated by a multitude of observational approaches. Each of these methods is associated with hard to test assumptions since Cant cannot be directly observed. Results from a simpler concept with fewer assumptions applied to the Atlantic Ocean are reported on here using two large data collections of carbon relevant bottle data. The change in column inventory on decadal time scales, i.e. the storage rate, of DIC, respiration compensated DIC and oxygen is calculated for the Atlantic Ocean. We report storage rates and the confidence intervals of the mean trend at the 95% level (CI), reflecting the mean trend but not considering potential biasing effects of the spatial and temporal sampling. For the whole Atlantic Ocean the mean trends for DIC and oxygen are non-zero at the 95% confidence level: DIC: 0.86 (CI: 0.72–1.00) and oxygen: −0.24 (CI: −0.41–(−0.07)) mol m−2 yr−1. For oxygen, the whole Atlantic trend is dominated by the subpolar North Atlantic, whereas for other regions the O2 trends are not significant. The storage rates are similar to changes found by other studies, although with large uncertainty. For the subpolar North Atlantic the storage rates show significant temporal and regional variation of all variables. This seems to be due to variations in the prevalence of subsurface water masses with different DIC and oxygen concentrations leading to sometimes different signs of storage rates for DIC compared to published Cant estimates. This study suggest that accurate assessment of the uptake of CO2 by the oceans will require accounting not only for processes that influence Cant but also additional processes that modify CO2 storage.

Citation: Tanhua, T. and Keeling, R. F.: Changes in column inventories of carbon and oxygen in the Atlantic Ocean, Biogeosciences, 9, 4819-4833, doi:10.5194/bg-9-4819-2012, 2012.
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