Global trends of ocean CO2 sink and ocean acidification: an observation-based reconstruction of surface ocean inorganic carbon variables

Ocean acidification is likely to impact marine ecosystems and human societies adversely and is a carbon cycle issue of great concern. Projecting the degree of ocean acidification and the carbon-climate feedback will require understanding the current status, variability, and trends of ocean inorganic carbon system variables and the ocean carbon sink. With this goal in mind, we reconstructed total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), CO2 partial pressure (pCO2sea), sea–air CO2 flux, pH, and aragonite saturation state (Ωarg) for the global ocean based on measurements of pCO2sea and TA. We used a multiple linear regression approach to derive relationships to explain TA and DIC and obtained monthly 1° × 1° gridded values of TA and DIC for the period 1993–2018. These data were converted to pCO2sea, pH, and Ωarg, and monthly sea-air CO2 fluxes were obtained in combination with atmospheric CO2. Mean annual sea–air CO2 flux and its rate of change were estimated to be − 2.0 ± 0.5 PgC year−1 and − 0.3 (PgC year−1) decade−1, respectively. Our analysis revealed that oceanic CO2 uptake decreased during the 1990s and has been increasing since 2000. Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change, − 0.0181 ± 0.0001 decade−1, was consistent with that expected from the trend of atmospheric CO2 growth. However, rates of decline of pH were relatively slow in the Southern Ocean (− 0.0165 ± 0.0001·decade−1) and in the western equatorial Pacific (− 0.0148 ± 0.0002·decade−1). Our estimate of the globally averaged rate of pH change can be used to verify Indicator 14.3.1 of Sustainable Development Goals.

Iida Y., Takatani Y., Kojima A. & Ishii M., in press. Global trends of ocean CO2 sink and ocean acidification: an observation-based reconstruction of surface ocean inorganic carbon variables. Journal of Oceanography. Article (subscription required).

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