National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2003

Inorganic carbon in the Indian Ocean: Distribution and dissolution processes

Sabine, C.L., R.M. Key, R.A. Feely, and D. Greeley

Global Biogeochem. Cy., 16(4), 1067, doi: 10.1029/2002GB001869 (2002)

This study uses nearly 25,000 carbon measurements from the WOCE/JGOFS global CO2 survey to examine the distribution of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) in the Indian Ocean. Shallow and intermediate distributions of inorganic carbon do not strictly follow temperature and salinity because of differing surface gradients and vertical biological processes that work to modify the circulation derived features. Anthropogenic CO2 has increased the shallow DIC by as much as 3%, decreasing the vertical DIC gradient. Deep ocean DIC and TA increase toward the north because of the decomposition and dissolution of organic and inorganic particles. Calcite saturation depths range from 2900-3900 m with the deepest saturation depth in the central Indian Ocean. Variations of aragonite saturation depth (200-1400 m) are similar to calcite, but the deepest saturations are in the southwestern Indian Ocean. The shallowest aragonite saturation depths are found in the Bay of Bengal. In the northern Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, the current aragonite saturations are 100 and 200 m shallower, respectively, than in preindustrial times. Estimates of carbonate dissolution rates on isopycnal surfaces range from 0.017 to 0.083 µmol kg−1 yr−1 in deep waters. Upper water column dissolution rates range from 0 to 0.73 µmol kg−1 yr−1, with a local maximum occurring in intermediate waters just below the aragonite saturation horizon. Dissolution is also generally higher north of the Chemical Front at 10-20°S. There is some evidence for significant sedimentary sources in the northern Indian Ocean.

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