Evidence for enhanced primary production driving significant CO2 drawdown associated with the Atlantic ITCZ

Type Article
Date 2022-09
Language English
Author(s) Ibánhez J. Severino P.1, 2, Flores Manuel3, Lefèvre Nathalie4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Instituto de Investigacións Mariñas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IIM-CSIC), Eduardo Cabello 6, 36208 Vigo, Spain
2 : Biogeochemistry Research Group, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
3 : Department of Oceanography – DOCEAN, Federal University of Pernambuco – UFPE, Av. Arquitetura, s/n, Cidade Universitária, 50740-550 Recife, PE, Brazil
4 : IRD-LOCEAN, Sorbonne Université, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France
Source Science Of The Total Environment (0048-9697) (Elsevier BV), 2022-09 , Vol. 838 , N. Part 4 , P. 156592 (15p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156592
WOS© Times Cited 2
Keyword(s) Tropical Atlantic, Oceanic carbonate system, Sea-air CO2 flux, Rainfall, Diazotrophy

The intense rainfall associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), a narrow zone of confluence of the northeast and southeast trades, can significantly alter sea surface salinity, the chemistry of inorganic C and the resulting sea-air CO2 exchange in the tropics. We have analyzed extensive underway data collected from 2008 until 2014 and recorded by an autonomous CO2 system installed on a commercial ship that crosses the central tropical Atlantic (5°S to 15°N, 18°W to 36°W) to disentangle the effects of the ITCZ over the carbonate system there. Based on statistically significant linear co-variance of sea surface fugacity of CO2 (fCO2sw) and sea surface salinity in the areas affected by the ITCZ, we calculated CO2 drawdown rates associated with the impact of the ITCZ in the central tropical Atlantic ranging from 0.11 ± 0.02 to 2.35 ± 0.08 mmol m−2 d−1. These were calculated by comparing the observed fCO2sw with that expected without surface seawater carbonate system dilution and increase in gas transfer caused by the ITCZ. The observed decrease in fCO2sw associated with the freshening caused by the ITCZ is much larger than expected from thermodynamics alone. 59.1 ± 4.1 % of the total observed CO2 drawdown associated with the ITCZ cannot be explained by abiotic processes. Instead, we found significant negative correlations between underway sea surface salinity and remote-sensed chlorophyll a in the areas affected by the ITCZ. Different to other tropical oceanic basins, the tropical Atlantic receives large amounts of continental dust originated from Africa. Wet dust deposition driven by the ITCZ appears associated with the interannual variability of the CO2 drawdown associated with the ITCZ. Fertilization driven by the ITCZ seems to enhance primary production in the otherwise oligotrophic tropical Atlantic, thus significantly lowering CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

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