Continental shelves as a variable but increasing global sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide

Type Article
Date 2018-01
Language English
Author(s) Laruelle Goulven G.1, Cai Wei-JunORCID2, Hu XinpingORCID3, Gruber NicolasORCID4, Mackenzie Fred T.5, Regnier Pierre1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Libre Bruxelles, Dept Geosci Environm & Soc, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.
2 : Univ Delaware, Sch Marine Sci & Policy, Newark, DE 19716 USA.
3 : Texas A&M Univ Corpus Christi, Dept Phys & Environm Sci, Corpus Christi, TX 78412 USA.
4 : Swiss Fed Inst Technol, Inst Biogeochem & Pollutant Dynam, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
5 : Univ Hawaii Manoa, Sch Ocean & Earth Sci & Technol, Dept Oceanog, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
Source Nature Communications (2041-1723) (Nature Publishing Group), 2018-01 , Vol. 9 , P. 454 (11p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41467-017-02738-z
WOS© Times Cited 92

It has been speculated that the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) in shelf waters may lag the rise in atmospheric CO2. Here, we show that this is the case across many shelf regions, implying a tendency for enhanced shelf uptake of atmospheric CO2. This result is based on analysis of long-term trends in the air-sea pCO(2) gradient (Delta pCO(2)) using a global surface ocean pCO(2) database spanning a period of up to 35 years. Using wintertime data only, we find that Delta pCO(2) increased in 653 of the 825 0.5 degrees cells for which a trend could be calculated, with 325 of these cells showing a significant increase in excess of + 0.5 mu atm yr(-1) (p < 0.05). Although noisier, the deseasonalized annual data suggest similar results. If this were a global trend, it would support the idea that shelves might have switched from a source to a sink of CO2 during the last century.

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