Anthropogenic carbon dynamics in the changing ocean
- 1Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Allégaten 70, Bergen, 5007, Norway
- 2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Allégaten 55, Bergen, 5007, Norway
- *now at: British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
Abstract. The long-term response of CO2 fluxes to climate change at the ocean surface and within the ocean interior is investigated using a coupled climate-carbon cycle model. This study also presents the first attempt to quantify the evolution of lateral transport of anthropogenic carbon under future climate change. Additionally, its impact on regional carbon storage and uptake is also evaluated. For the 1850–2099 period, our climate change simulation predicts oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon of about 538±23 Pg C. Another simulation indicates that changes in physical climate and its associated biogeochemical feedbacks result in a release of natural carbon of about 22±30 Pg C. The natural carbon outgassing is attributed to the reduction in solubility and change in wind pattern in the Southern Hemisphere. After the anthropogenic carbon passes through the air-sea interface, it is predominantly transported along the large scale overturning circulation below the surface layer. The spatial variations in the transport patterns in turn influence the evolution of future regional carbon uptake. In the North Atlantic, a slow down in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation weakens the penetration strength of anthropogenic carbon into the deeper ocean, which leads to a reduced uptake rate in this region. In contrast, more than half of the anthropogenic carbon taken up in the high latitude Southern Ocean region (south of 58° S) is efficiently and continuously exported northward, predominantly into intermediate waters. This transport mechanism allows continuous increase in future carbon uptake in the high latitude Southern Ocean, where the annual uptake strength could reach 39.3±0.9 g C m−2 yr−1, more than twice the global mean of 16.0±0.3 g C m−2 yr−1 by the end of the 21st century. Our study further underlines the key role of the Southern Ocean in controlling long-term future carbon uptake.