National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2023

Accelerated accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 drives rapid acidification in the North Pacific subtropical mode water during 1993-2020

Li, C.-L., Y. Wu, X. Wang, R.A. Feely, W.-J. Cai, L. Han, X. Lin, and D. Qi

Geophys. Res. Lett., 49(24), e2022GL101639, doi: 10.1029/2022GL101639, View open access online at Wiley/AGU (external link) (2022)

Recent studies suggest that the formation and motion of the North Pacific subtropical mode water (STMW) play an important role in oceanic uptake, transport and storage of anthropogenic CO2 (CANT). However, the variability of STMW acidification rate and its control mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show that the STMW acidification rate during 2005–2020 is about two times of that during 1993–2005, which is due to the cooling-driven enhanced CANT accumulation in the formation waters in the recent period. The rapid rates of CANT accumulation and acidification are consistently observed in the entire region across 137°–149°E regulated by STMW transport. Moreover, the tracer-based (Δ14C and δ13C) analyses also indicate that the accelerated accumulation of CANT could be traced back to the surface formation waters via STMW formation. The vertical and horizontal consistencies imply the memory function of mode waters in retaining the anthropogenic carbon fingerprint during its formation and transport.

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