labs_title

Caldeira Lab Research:Ocean acidification and ocean carbon cycle

The role of ocean transport in the uptake of anthropogenic CO2

Cao, L., Eby, M., Ridgwell, A., Caldeira, K., Archer, D., Ishida, A., Joos, F., Matsumoto, K., Mikolajewicz, U., Mouchet, A., Orr, J. C., Plattner, G.-K., Schlitzer, R., Tokos, K., Totterdell, I., Tschumi, T., Yamanaka, Y., and Yool, A.

As CO2 continues to be emitted by fossil fuel burning and land use changes, the question arises as to how much CO2 will remain in the atmosphere and how much will be absorbed elsewhere. This study uses a variety of ocean and Earth system models to predict the uptake of anthropogenic (produced by humans) CO2 by the ocean.


Cao, L., Eby, M., Ridgwell, A., Caldeira, K., Archer, D., Ishida, A., Joos, F., Matsumoto, K., Mikolajewicz, U., Mouchet, A., Orr, J. C., Plattner, G.-K., Schlitzer, R., Tokos, K., Totterdell, I., Tschumi, T., Yamanaka, Y., and Yool, A. The role of ocean transport in the uptake of anthropogenic CO2. Biogeosciences, 6, 375-390. 2009.

Fig.1:Model-simulated oceanic uptake of CO2 in response to a CO2 pulse emission of 590.2 Pg C (corresponding to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric CO2 from 278 to 556 ppm).

Abstract

We compare modeled oceanic carbon uptake in response to pulse CO2 emissions using a suite of global ocean models and Earth system models. In response to a CO2 pulse emission of 590 Pg C (corresponding to an instantaneous doubling of atmospheric CO2 from 278 to 556 ppm), the fraction of CO2 emitted that is absorbed by the ocean is: 37±8%, 56±10%, and 81±4% (model mean ±2) in year 30, 100, and 1000 after the emission pulse, respectively. Modeled oceanic uptake of pulse CO2 on timescales from decades to about a century is strongly correlated with simulated present day uptake of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and CO2 across all models, while the amount of pulse CO2 absorbed by the ocean from a century to a millennium is strongly correlated with modeled radiocarbon in the deep Southern and Pacific Ocean. However, restricting the analysis to models that are capable of reproducing observations within uncertainty, the correlation is generally much weaker. The rates of surface-to-deep ocean transport are determined for individual models from the instantaneous doubling CO2 simulations, and they are used to calculate oceanic CO2 uptake in response to pulse CO2 emissions of different sizes pulses of 1000 and 5000 Pg C. These results are compared with simulated oceanic uptake of CO2 by a number of models simulations with the coupling of climate-ocean carbon cycle and without it. This comparison demonstrates that the impact of different ocean transport rates across models on oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is of similar magnitude as that of climate-carbon cycle feedbacks in a single model, emphasizing the important role of ocean transport in the uptake of anthropogenic CO2.