Carbon dynamics of the Weddell Gyre, Southern Ocean

Peter J. Brown (Lead Author), Loïc Jullion, Peter Landschützer, Dorothee C. E. Bakker, Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Michael P. Meredith, Sinhue Torres-Valdés, Andrew J. Watson, Mario Hoppema, Brice Loose, Elizabeth M. Jones, Maciej Telszewski, Steve D. Jones, Rik Wanninkhof

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The accumulation of carbon within the Weddell Gyre and its exchanges across the gyre boundaries are investigated with three recent full-depth oceanographic sections enclosing this climatically important region. The combination of carbonmeasurements with ocean circulation transport estimates from a
box inverse analysis reveals that deepwater transports associated with Warm Deep Water (WDW) and Weddell Sea Deep Water dominate the gyre’s carbon budget, while a dual-cell vertical overturning circulation leads to both upwelling and the delivery of large quantities of carbon to the deep ocean. Historical sea surface pCO2 observations, interpolated using a neural network technique, confirm the net summertime sink of 0.044 to 0.058 ± 0.010 Pg C / yr derived from the inversion. However, a wintertime outgassing signal similar in size
results in a statistically insignificant annual air-to-sea CO2 flux of 0.002± 0.007 Pg C / yr (mean 1998–2011) to 0.012 ± 0.024 Pg C/ yr (mean 2008–2010) to be diagnosed for the Weddell Gyre. A surface layer carbon balance, independently derived fromin situ biogeochemical measurements, reveals that freshwater inputs and biological drawdown decrease surface ocean inorganic carbon levels more than they are increased by WDW entrainment, resulting in an estimated annual carbon sink of 0.033 ± 0.021 Pg C / yr. Although relatively less
efficient for carbon uptake than the global oceans, the summertime Weddell Gyre suppresses the winter outgassing signal, while its biological pump and deepwater formation act as key conduits for transporting natural and anthropogenic carbon to the deep ocean where they can reside for long time scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288–306
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Southern Ocean
  • Weddell Gyre
  • ocean carbon cycle
  • neural network
  • air-sea exchange of CO2
  • observations

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