National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1987

Distribution of chemical tracers in the eastern equatorial Pacific during and after the 1982–1983 El Niño/Southern Oscillation event

Feely, R.A., R.H. Gammon, B.A. Taft, P.E. Pullen, L.S. Waterman, T.J. Conway, J.F. Gendron, and D.P. Wisegarver

J. Geophys. Res., 92(C6), 6545–6558, doi: 10.1029/JC092iC06p06545 (1987)

During April 1983 and March-April 1984, two cruises were conducted in the central equatorial Pacific to determine the effects of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event on the sea-air exchange of CO2. Measurements of total carbon dioxide, pCO2, total alkalinity, freon-11, salinity, temperature, oxygen, nutrients, and wind and current velocities were made along three meridional transects (158°W, April 1983; 150°W, March 1984; 170°W, April 1984). The cessation of upwelling during the ENSO event caused pCO2 concentrations in surface waters to decrease to near-saturation levels along the equator. The calculated net flux of CO2 across the sea-air interface was essentially negligible in the eastern equatorial Pacific during this period. However, when normal trade winds and consequent upwelling returned in late 1983 and early 1984, the equatorial region returned to a pCO2 condition of highly supersaturated surface waters in the region between 8°N and 8°S along the 150° and 170°W transects. The calculated post-ENSO sea-air flux of CO2 exceeded 6.0 mmol CO2 m−2 d−1. The mean annual CO2 flux in the equatorial Pacific was estimated to be 0.02 Gt of carbon during the 1982–1983 ENSO event as compared with 0.6 Gt during 1984.

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