Impact of nonzero intercept gas transfer velocity parameterizations on global and regional ocean–atmosphere CO2 fluxes

Mariana Ribas-Ribas, Gianna Battaglia, Matthew P. Humphreys, Oliver Wurl

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Carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes between the ocean and atmosphere (FCO2) are commonly computed from differences between their partial pressures of CO2 (∆pCO2) and the gas transfer velocity (k). Commonly used wind-based parameterizations for k imply a zero intercept, although in situ field data below 4 m s−1 are scarce. Considering a global average wind speed over the ocean of 6.6 m s−1, a nonzero intercept might have a significant impact on global FCO2. Here, we present a database of 245 in situ measurements of k obtained with the floating chamber technique (Sniffle), 190 of which have wind speeds lower than 4 m s−1. A quadratic parameterization with wind speed and a nonzero intercept resulted in the best fit for k. We further tested FCO2 calculated with a different parameterization with a complementary pCO2 observation-based product. Furthermore, we ran a simulation in a well-tested ocean model of intermediate complexity to test the implications of different gas transfer velocity parameterizations for the natural carbon cycle. The global ocean observation-based analysis suggests that ignoring a nonzero intercept results in an ocean-sink increase of 0.73 Gt C yr−1. This corresponds to a 28% higher uptake of CO2 compared with the flux calculated from a parameterization with a nonzero intercept. The differences in FCO2 were higher in the case of low wind conditions and large ∆pCO2 between the ocean and atmosphere. Such conditions occur frequently in the Tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019


  • Carbon cycle
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Gas transfer velocity
  • Low wind speed
  • Ocean-atmosphere CO flux

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