Interpreting the seasonal cycles of atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations at American Samoa Observatory

Andrew C. Manning, Ralph F. Keeling, Laura E. Katz, William J. Paplawsky, Elizabeth M. McEvoy

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We present seven years of atmospheric O2/N2 ratio and CO2 concentration data measured from flask samples collected at American Samoa. These data are unusual, exhibiting higher short-term variability, and seasonal cycles not in phase with other sampling stations. The unique nature of atmospheric data from Samoa has been noted previously from measurements of CO2, methyl chloroform, and ozone. With our O2 data, we observe greater magnitude in the short-term variability, but, in contrast, no clear seasonal pattern to this variability. This we attribute to significant regional sources and sinks existing for O2 in both hemispheres, and a dependence on both the latitudinal and altitudinal origins of air masses. We also hypothesize that some samples exhibit a component of "older" air, demonstrating recirculation of air within the tropics. Our findings could be used to help constrain atmospheric transport models which are not well characterized in tropical regions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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