National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1996

Reevaluation of the open ocean source of carbonyl sulfide to the atmosphere

Weiss, P.S., J.E. Johnson, R.H. Gammon, and T.S. Bates

J. Geophys. Res., 100(D11), 23,083–23,092, doi: 10.1029/95JD01926 (1995)

Carbonyl sulfide (COS) concentrations were measured in surface seawater samples and the overlying marine boundary layer of the Pacific Ocean by using gas chromatography (GC) and electron capture sulfur detection (ECD-S). A wide latitudinal range was covered (55°N-70°S) on two cruises 9 months apart. COS saturation ratios (SRs) in seawater were found to be less than 1 (undersaturated) across wide regions of the open ocean, especially in the subtropical gyres and wintertime subpolar waters. SRs were highest in coastal/shelf regions and in spring/summertime temperate waters. Extensive undersaturation is attributed to a low COS photoproduction potential of the water, limited sunlight, and/or a rapid hydrolysis rate constant. Decreasing COS concentrations during diurnal cycles in tropical waters were fitted to first-order exponentials, with resulting decay times agreeing with calculated hydrolysis lifetimes to within 15%. Air-sea fluxes of COS from the open ocean were calculated by using two different expressions for the transfer velocity and averaged into six latitude bands and three seasons. On the basis of these data we report a global open ocean sea-air flux of -0.032 (-0.010 to -0.054) Tg COS/yr, which is much lower than and of different sign from the current global estimate (0.14-0.58 Tg COS/yr). Atmospheric COS mixing ratios averaged 470 pptv on the first cruise and 442 pptv on the second cruise, with much of the difference possibly a result of a seasonal decrease in the northern hemisphere COS mixing ratio of up to 10%.

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