Variability of North Atlantic CO2 fluxes for the 2000–2017 period estimated from atmospheric inverse analyses

Zhaohui Chen, Parvadha Suntharalingam, Andrew J. Watson, Ute Schuster, Jiang Zhu, Ning Zeng

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We present new estimates of the regional North Atlantic (15-80g ¯N) CO2 flux for the 2000-2017 period using atmospheric CO2 measurements from the NOAA long-term surface site network in combination with an atmospheric carbon cycle data assimilation system (GEOS-Chem-LETKF, Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filter). We assess the sensitivity of flux estimates to alternative ocean CO2 prior flux distributions and to the specification of uncertainties associated with ocean fluxes. We present a new scheme to characterize uncertainty in ocean prior fluxes, derived from a set of eight surface pCO2-based ocean flux products, and which reflects uncertainties associated with measurement density and pCO2-interpolation methods. This scheme provides improved model performance in comparison to fixed prior uncertainty schemes, based on metrics of model-observation differences at the network of surface sites. Long-term average posterior flux estimates for the 2000-2017 period from our GEOS-Chem-LETKF analyses are -0.255¯±¯0.037¯PgC¯yr-1 for the subtropical basin (15-50g ¯N) and -0.203¯±¯0.037¯PgC¯yr-1 for the subpolar region (50-80g ¯N, eastern boundary at 20g ¯E). Our basin-scale estimates of interannual variability (IAV) are 0.036¯±¯0.006 and 0.034¯±¯0.009¯PgC¯yr-1 for subtropical and subpolar regions, respectively. We find statistically significant trends in carbon uptake for the subtropical and subpolar North Atlantic of -0.064¯±¯0.007 and -0.063¯±¯0.008¯PgC¯yr-1¯decade-1; these trends are of comparable magnitude to estimates from surface ocean pCO2-based flux products, but they are larger, by a factor of 3-4, than trends estimated from global ocean biogeochemistry models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4549-4570
Number of pages22
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021

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