Anthropogenic carbon accumulation in the subtropical North Atlantic

  • Brown P
  • Bakker D
  • Schuster U
 et al. 
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Abstract

Recent data suggest the accumulation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (ΔCanth) in the subtropical North Atlantic is not occurring at a steady rate throughout the water column. Carbon measurements from three transatlantic cruises along 24.5°N in 1992, 1998, and 2004 were investigated for changes in Canth using both a back-calculation shortcut technique and extended multiple linear regression. For three time periods (1992–1998, 1998–2004, and 1992–2004) we observed spatial and vertical changes in Canth storage, along with a general increase in total concentration. In the surface layers, total dissolved inorganic carbon (TCO2) and Canth concentrations increased in line with atmospheric CO2 levels: TCO2 +8.8 ± 0.5 μmol kg−1 for 1992–1998 and +8.6 ± 0.5 μmol kg−1 for 1998–2004 and Canth +8.0 ± 0.2 μmol kg−1 for 1992–1998 and +6.8 ± 0.3 μmol kg−1 for 1998–2004. In deeper waters, ΔCanth was significantly different than zero for all depths above 5000 dbar between 1992 and 2004, while on a subdecadal timescale, significant variability was observed for ΔCanth at a depth range of 800–1000 dbar. Evidence is presented for the arrival at 24.5°N at depth of freshly ventilated Labrador Sea Water from the subpolar North Atlantic between 1992 and 1998, as well as consistent smaller ΔCanth signals alongside the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is in addition to low-level, stable increases identified in the deep eastern basin between 1992 and 2004, the first time that ΔCanth has been detected and confirmed by new measurements of carbon tetrachloride and CFC-11 from 2004. These results highlight the importance of the subtropics as a site for long-term Canth storage away from the surface.

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Authors

  • Peter J. Brown

  • Dorothee C E Bakker

  • Ute Schuster

  • Andrew J. Watson

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