Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 9–10, pp 3335–3357 | Cite as

Constraints on oceanic meridional heat transport from combined measurements of oxygen and carbon

  • L. Resplandy
  • R. F. Keeling
  • B. B. Stephens
  • J. D. Bent
  • A. Jacobson
  • C. Rödenbeck
  • S. Khatiwala


Despite its importance to the climate system, the ocean meridional heat transport is still poorly quantified. We identify a strong link between the northern hemisphere deficit in atmospheric potential oxygen (APO = O\(_2\) + 1.1 \(\times\) CO\(_2\)) and the asymmetry in meridional heat transport between northern and southern hemispheres. The recent aircraft observations from the HIPPO campaign reveal a northern APO deficit in the tropospheric column of \(-\)10.4 \(\pm\) 1.0 per meg, double the value at the surface and more representative of large-scale air–sea fluxes. The global northward ocean heat transport asymmetry necessary to explain the observed APO deficit is about 0.7–1.1 PW, which corresponds to the upper range of estimates from hydrographic sections and atmospheric reanalyses.


Ocean heat transport Potential oxygen Hemispheric asymmetry HIPPO aircraft campaign 



This work was made possible thanks to the scientists and personnel involved in collecting the numerous atmospheric and oceanic observations used in this study. We thank the HIPPO science team and the NCAR RAF pilots, crew, and support staff. The HIPPO O\(_2\) measurements were supported by NSF grants ATM-0628519, and ATM-0628388. We sincerely thank Prabir Patra for providing the results of his atmospheric transport model (CCSR/NIES/FRCGC model). We thank the groups developing the MOM and MITgcm models for providing access to their model results. We are grateful to L. Talley, C. Wunsch, J. Marshall and R. Ferrari for valuable and inspiring discussion throughout the course of this study. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments. We thank the Deutsche Klimarechenzentrum for providing computer time and Hendryk Bockelmann for the amazing technical support. Laure Resplandy was granted support by the Climate Program Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Samar Khatiwala was supported by US NSF grant OCE 10-60804. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Supplementary material

382_2016_3029_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (350 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 350 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAABoulderUSA
  4. 4.Max Planck Institute for BiogeochemistryJenaGermany
  5. 5.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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