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Impact of episodic vertical fluxes on sea surface pCO2

Abstract : Episodic events like hurricanes, storms and frontal- and eddy-driven upwelling can alter the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) at the sea surface by entraining subsurface waters into the surface mixed layer (ML) of the ocean. Since pCO2 is a function of total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), temperature (T), salinity and alkalinity, it responds to the combined impacts of physical, chemical and biological changes. Here, we present an analytical framework for assessing the relative magnitude and sign in the short-term perturbation of surface pCO2 arising from vertical mixing events. Using global, monthly, climatological datasets, we assess the individual, as well as integrated, contribution of various properties to surface pCO2 in response to episodic mixing. The response depends on the relative vertical gradients of properties beneath the ML. Many areas of the ocean exhibit very little sensitivity to mixing owing to the compensatory effects of DIC and T on pCO2, whereas others, such as the eastern upwelling margins, have the potential to generate large positive/negative anomalies in surface pCO2. The response varies seasonally and spatially and becomes more intense in subtropical and subpolar regions during summer. Regions showing a greater pCO2 response to vertical mixing are likely to exhibit higher spatial variability in surface pCO2 on time scales of days.
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Amala Mahadevan, Alessandro Tagliabue, Laurent Bopp, Andrew Lenton, Laurent Mémery, et al.. Impact of episodic vertical fluxes on sea surface pCO2. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (1934–1990), Royal Society, The, 2011, 369, pp.2009-2025. ⟨10.1098/rsta.2010.0340⟩. ⟨hal-00634533⟩

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