National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2003

Anthropogenic CO2 uptake by the ocean based on the global chlorofluorocarbon data set

McNeil, B.I., R.J. Matear, R.M. Key, J.L. Bullister, and J.L. Sarmiento

Science, 299(5604), 235–239, doi: 10.1126/science.1077429 (2003)

We estimated the oceanic inventory of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) from 1980 to 1999 using a technique based on the global chlorofluorocarbon data set. Our analysis suggests that the ocean stored 14.8 petagrams of anthropogenic carbon from mid-1980 to mid-1989 and 17.9 petagrams of carbon from mid-1990 to mid-1999, indicating an oceanwide net uptake of 1.6 and 2.0 ± 0.4 petagrams of carbon per year, respectively. Our results provide an upper limit on the solubility-driven anthropogenic CO2 flux into the ocean, and they suggest that most ocean general circulation models are overestimating oceanic anthropogenic CO2 uptake over the past two decades.

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