Changes in anthropogenic carbon storage in the Northeast Pacific in the last decade

In order to understand the ocean’s role as a sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), it is important to quantify changes in the amount of anthropogenic CO2 stored in the ocean interior over time. From August to September 2012, an ocean acidification cruise was conducted along a portion of the P17N transect (50°N 150°W to 33.5°N 135°W) in the Northeast Pacific. These measurements are compared with data from the previous occupation of this transect in 2001 to estimate the change in the anthropogenic CO2 inventory in the Northeast Pacific using an extended multiple linear regression (eMLR) approach. Maximum increases in the surface waters were 11 µmol kg−1 over 11 years near 50°N. Here, the penetration depth of anthropogenic CO2 only reached ∼300 m depth, whereas at 33.5°N, penetration depth reached ∼600 m. The average increase of the depth-integrated anthropogenic carbon inventory was 0.41 ± 0.12 mol m−2 yr−1 across the transect. Lower values down to 0.20 mol m−2 yr−1 were observed in the northern part of the transect near 50°N and increased up to 0.55 mol m−2 yr−1 toward 33.5°N. This increase in anthropogenic carbon in the upper ocean resulted in an average pH decrease of 0.002 ± 0.0003 pH units yr−1 and a 1.8 ± 0.4 m yr−1 shoaling rate of the aragonite saturation horizon. An average increase in apparent oxygen utilization of 13.4 ± 15.5 µmol kg−1 centered on isopycnal surface 26.6 kg m−3 from 2001 to 2012 was also observed.

Chu S. N., Wang Z. A., Doney S. C., Lawson G. L. & Hoering K. A., 2016. Changes in anthropogenic carbon storage in the Northeast Pacific in the last decade. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121:4618–4632. Article (subscription required).

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