Decadal trends in air-sea CO2 exchange in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

Highly productive Antarctic shelf systems, like the Ross Sea, play important roles in regional carbon budgets, but the drivers of local variations are poorly quantified. We assess the variability in the Ross Sea carbon cycle using a regional physical-biogeochemical model. Regionally, total partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) increases are largely controlled by the biological pump and broadly similar to those in the offshore Southern Ocean. However, this masks substantial local variability within the Ross Sea, where inter-annual fluctuations in total pCO2 are driven by the biological pump and alkalinity, whereas those for anthropogenic pCO2 are related to physical processes. Overall, the high degree of spatial variability in the Ross Sea carbon cycle causes extremes in aragonite saturation that can be as large as long-term trends. Therefore, Antarctic shelf polynya systems like the Ross Sea will be strongly affected by local processes in addition to larger scale phenomena.

Tagliabue A. & Arrigo K. R., in press. Decadal trends in air-sea CO2 exchange in the Ross Sea (Antarctica). Geophysical research Letters. Article (subscription required).


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