National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Calcium carbonate budget in the Atlantic Ocean based on water column inorganic carbon chemistry

Chung, S., K. Lee, R.A. Feely, C.L. Sabine, F.J. Millero, R. Wanninkhof, J.L. Bullister, R.M. Key, and T.-H. Peng

Global Biogeochem. Cy., 17(4), 1093, doi: 10.1029/2002GB002001 (2003)

Recent independent lines of evidence suggest that the dissolution of calcium carbonate (CaCO) particles is substantial in the upper ocean above the calcite 100% saturation horizon. This shallow-water dissolution of carbonate particles is in contrast with the current paradigm of the conservative nature of pelagic CaCO at shallow water depths. Here we use more than 20,000 sets of carbon measurements in conjunction with CFC and C data from the WOCE/JGOFS/OACES global CO survey to estimate in situ dissolution rates of CaCO in the Atlantic Ocean. A dissolution rate is estimated from changes in alkalinity as a parcel of water ages along an isopycnal surface. The in situ CaCO dissolution increases rapidly at the aragonite 100% saturation horizon. Estimated dissolution rates north of 40°N are generally higher than the rates to the south, which is partly attributable to the production of exported CaCO being higher in the North Atlantic than in the South Atlantic. As more CaCO particles move down the water column, more particles are available for in situ dissolution. The total water column CaCO dissolution rate in the Atlantic Ocean is determined on an annual basis by integrating estimated dissolution rates throughout the entire water column and correcting for alkalinity input of approximately 5.6 × 10 mol C yr from CaCO-rich sediments. The resulting water column dissolution rate of CaCO for the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 11.1 × 10 mol C yr. This corresponds to about 31% of a recent estimate (35.8 × 10 mol C yr) of net CaCO production by Lee [2001] for the same area. Our calculation using a large amount of high-quality water column alkalinity data provides the first basin-scale estimate of the CaCO budget for the Atlantic Ocean.

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