Synthesis & Modeling Project
Lynne Talley
Gregory C. Johnson
Richard A. Feely

Paul Robbins

Transport and storage of carbon in the Pacific Ocean: Estimates from inverse models

NOAA/DOE OACES, 36 months

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The focus of this proposal is estimating advective carbon fluxes and flux divergences in the Pacific Ocean using data from the recent  WOCE/JGOFS one-time hydrographic survey.  The NOAA Climate and Global  Change Program has made a substantial investment in collecting this  remarkable data set, with PIs here in the lead role of collecting a large fraction of these data.  It is time to capitalize on this investment and use these data to further our understanding of the ocean in climate. The effort will be a done in conjunction with and benefit from ongoing work including  (1) a synthesis of the WOCE observations in the Pacific Ocean aimed at estimating the general circulation there (Johnson, PMEL; Robbins and Talley, SIO; Toole, WHOI; Wijffels, CSIRO) and (2) quantification of anthropogenic carbon storage in the ocean (Feely and Bullister, PMEL; Wanninkhof and Peng, AOML; Sabine and Key, Princeton; Millero, U. Miami).  Linking these two projects will improve our knowledge of carbon fluxes and storage within the Pacific Basin.  Determinations of interior ocean fluxes throughout the world ocean is a key effort in reducing uncertainty in the global carbon budget.  Analysis of surface PCO2 data and model output suggests that as well as storing carbon, the oceans play a significant role in redistributing carbon between ocean basins and from sink to source regions.  However, the surface flux estimates are hampered by sampling requirements and poorly known gas exchange coefficients.  Model output is biased by unresolved physics.  The interior ocean flux estimates made under this proposal will provide an independent assessment and constraint on the magnitude of the net air-sea carbon transfer, natural and anthropogenic, as well as its geographic distribution.  Additionally they will serve as a comparison benchmark for model output.  Finally, quantifying the physical processes responsible for the transport and storage of carbon within the ocean is the first step to making future assessments of how possible shifts in ocean circulation may impact the uptake rate of anthropogenic carbon by the ocean.  Of course, calculating interior ocean carbon fluxes requires not only transoceanic sections of carbon data, but the best possible estimate of the velocity field for each section as well as the partition of natural and anthropogenic carbon.  The proposed work will capitalize on efforts currently underway to estimate the velocity field in the Pacific basin and to estimate the anthropogenic carbon component in that basin.  A key component of  this project will be the construction of an error budget for the uncertainties of the estimates of the total carbon flux and storage.  A careful calculation of the various errors in the calculations will contribute directly to the usefulness of the estimates of the carbon fluxes and storage within the Pacific basin.  Moreover, additional benefits to more basic issues concerning the appropriate methodology and allocation of resources for studying the oceanic carbon cycle are anticipated.


DATA: - no data submitted -

Johnson, G. C., P. E. Robbins, and G. E. Hufford. 2001. Systematic Adjustments of Hydrographic Sections for Internal Consistency. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 18, 1234-1244.

RELATED PROJECTS: - no related projects listed -


Lynne Talley
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California San Diego, M/C 0230
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0230
tel: (619) 534-6610
fax: (619) 534-9820

Gregory C. Johnson
7600 Sand Point Way NE, Bldg. 3
Seattle, WA 98115
tel: (206) 526-6806
fax: (206) 526-6744

Richard A. Feely
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
tel : (206) 526-6214
fax : (206) 526-6744

Paul E. Robbins
Physical Oceanography Research Division
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive, Mailcode 0230
La Jolla, CA 92093-0230
tel: (619) 534-6366
fax: (619) 534-9820