National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Temporal evolution of the North Pacific CO2 uptake rate

Sabine, C.L., R.A. Feely, Y.W. Watanabe, and M.F. Lamb

J. Oceanogr., 60(1), 5–15, doi: 10.1023/ (2004)

The recent changes in the North Pacific uptake rate of carbon have been estimated using a number of different techniques over the past decade. Recently, there has been a marked increase in the number of estimates being submitted for publication. Most of these estimates can be grouped into one of five basic techniques: carbon time-series, non-carbon tracers, carbon tracers, empirical relationships, and inverse calculations. Examples of each of these techniques as they have been applied in the North Pacific are given and the estimates summarized. The results are divided into three categories: integrated water column uptake rate estimates, mixed layer increases, and surface pCO2 increases. Most of the published values fall under the water column integrated uptake rate category. All of the estimates varied by region and depth range of integration, but generally showed consistent patterns of increased uptake from the tropics to the subtropics. The most disagreement between the methods was in the sub-arctic Pacific. Column integrated uptake rates ranged from 0.25 to 1.3 mol m-2 yr-1. The mixed layer uptake estimates were much more consistent, with values of 1.0-1.3 µmol kg-1 yr-1 based on direct observations and multiple linear regression approaches. Surface pCO2 changes showed the most obvious regional variability (0.5-2.5 µatm yr-1) reflecting the sensitivity of these measurements to differences in the physical and biological forcing. The different techniques used to evaluate the changes in North Pacific carbon distributions do not completely agree on the exact magnitude or spatial and temporal patterns of carbon uptake rate. Additional research is necessary to resolve these issues and better constrain the role of the North Pacific in the global carbon cycle.

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