EOS editors highlight paper: Sea-surface carbon patterns linked to large-scale climate modes

Observation-based estimates show the oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide is varying substantially in time, largely driven by the variability in the surface ocean CO2 content. A new study by Dr Peter Landschützer and Dr Tatiana Ilyina from the department “The Ocean in the Earth System” at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) with co-author Dr Nicole Lovenduski investigates the mechanisms and timescales dominating the marine partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) variability from 1982 through 2015. The study was picked as an “editors highlight” in the journal EOS.

The study makes use of a neural network-based extrapolation of the largest collection of surface ocean CO2 observations collected within the surface ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT). Based on their results, the authors find that at basin-scale the dominant frequencies at which pCO2 anomalies occur match those from the major climate modes, i.e. El Niño Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Southern Annular Mode. For most of the global ocean changes in circulation/biology dominate the anomaly frequency spectrum, whereas in the North Atlantic temperature effects are largely responsible for the observation-based anomalies. For most of the ocean, oscillation periods of >10 years dominate the anomaly frequency spectrum, hence the authors put into question whether a 34-year time series Is long enough to capture the full spectrum of climate-induced variability in the air-sea CO2 transfer, arguing for the extension of the ongoing measurement efforts.

More information:
Eos: https://eos.org/editor-highlights/sea-surface-carbon-patterns-linked-to-large-scale-climate-modes
SOCAT: https://www.socat.info/

Original publication:
Landschützer, P., Ilyina, T., and Lovenduski, N. S. (2019) Detecting regional modes of variability in observation‐based surface ocean pCO2Geophysical Research Letters46. doi: 10.1029/2018GL081756

Dr Peter Landschützer
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0)40 41173 145
Email: peter.landschuetzer@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

Dr Tatiana Ilyina
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0)40 41173 164
Email: tatiana.ilyina@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de