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Interannual variability of the oceanic sink of CO2 from 1979 through 1997


Le Quéré,  C.
Department Biogeochemical Synthesis, Prof. C. Prentice, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Le Quéré, C., Orr, J. C., Monfray, P., Aumont, O., & Madec, G. (2000). Interannual variability of the oceanic sink of CO2 from 1979 through 1997. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 14(4), 1247-1265. doi:10.1029/1999GB900049.

We have estimated the interannual variability in the oceanic sink of CO2 with a three-dimensional global-scale model which includes ocean circulation and simple biogeochemistry. The model was forced from 1979 to 1997 by a combination of daily to weekly data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis as well as European Remote Sensing satellite observations. For this period, the ocean sink of CO2 is estimated to vary between 1.4 and 2.2 Pg C yr(-1), as a result of annually averaged interannual variability of +/-0.4 Pg C yr(-1) that fluctuates about a mean of 1.8 Pg C yr(-1) Our interannual variability roughly agrees in amplitude with previous ocean-based estimates but is 2 to 4 times less than estimates based on atmospheric observations. About 70% of the global variance in our modeled Aux of CO2 originated in the equatorial Pacific. In that region, our modeled variability in the flux of CO2 generally agreed with that observed to +/-0.1 Pg C yr(-1) The predominance of the equatorial Pacific for interannual variability is caused by three factors: (1) interannual variability associated with El Nino events occurs in phase over the entire basin, whereas elsewhere positive and negative anomalies partly cancel each other out (e.g., for events such as Antarctic Circumpolar Wave and the North Atlantic Oscillation); (2) dynamic processes dominate in the equatorial Pacific, whereas dynamic, thermodynamic, and biological processes partly cancel one another at higher latitudes; and (3) our model underestimates the variability in ocean dynamics and biology at high latitudes. [References: 92]