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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 2, issue 1
Biogeosciences, 2, 87–96, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-87-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Special issue: Coastal Biogeochemistry

Biogeosciences, 2, 87–96, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-87-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  07 Mar 2005

07 Mar 2005

The carbon budget of the North Sea

H. Thomas1, Y. Bozec2, H. J. W. de Baar2, K. Elkalay2, M. Frankignoulle3, L.-S. Schiettecatte3, G. Kattner4, and A. V. Borges3 H. Thomas et al.
  • 1Canada Research Chair, Dalhousie University, Department of Oceanography, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
  • 2Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
  • 3Chemical Oceanography Unit, MARE, University of Liège, Institut de Physique (B5), 4000 Liège, Belgium
  • 4Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. A carbon budget has been established for the North Sea, a shelf sea on the NW European continental shelf. The carbon exchange fluxes with the North Atlantic Ocean dominate the gross carbon budget. The net carbon budget – more relevant to the issue of the contribution of the coastal ocean to the marine carbon cycle – is dominated by the carbon inputs from rivers, the Baltic Sea and the atmosphere. The North Sea acts as a sink for organic carbon and thus can be characterised as a heterotrophic system. The dominant carbon sink is the final export to the North Atlantic Ocean. More than 90% of the CO2 taken up from the atmosphere is exported to the North Atlantic Ocean making the North Sea a highly efficient continental shelf pump for carbon.

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