, Volume 12, Issue 10, pp 711-722

Future ocean uptake of CO2: interaction between ocean circulation and biology

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We discuss the potential variations of the biological pump that can be expected from a change in the oceanic circulation in the ongoing global warming. The biogeochemical model is based on the assumption of a perfect stoichiometric composition (Redfield ratios) of organic material. Upwelling nutrients are transformed into organic particles that sink to the deep ocean according to observed profiles. The physical circulation model is driven by the warming pattern as derived from scenario computations of a fully coupled ocean-atmosphere model. The amplitude of the warming is determined from the varying concentration of atmospheric CO2. The model predicts a pronounced weakening of the thermohaline overturning. This is connected with a reduction of the transient uptake capacity of the ocean. It yields also a more effective removal of organic material from the surface which partly compensates the physical effects of solubility. Both effects are rather marginal for the evolution of atmospheric pCO2. Running climate models and carbon cycle models separately seems to be justified.

Received: 9 August 1995 / Accepted: 22 April 1996