Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 11, pp 1564–1582 | Cite as

Carbon fluxes in the China Seas: An overview and perspective

  • Qian Liu
  • Xianghui Guo
  • Zhiqiang Yin
  • Kuanbo Zhou
  • Elliott Gareth Roberts
  • Minhan Dai


This paper aims to provide an overview of regional carbon fluxes and budgets in the marginal seas adjacent to China. The “China Seas” includes primarily the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and the Bohai Sea. Emphasis is given to CO2 fluxes across the air-sea interface and their controls. The net flux of CO2 degassing from the China Seas is estimated to be 9.5±53 Tg C yr−1. The total riverine carbon flux through estuaries to the China Seas is estimated as 59.6±6.4 Tg C yr−1. Chinese estuaries annually emit 0.74±0.02 Tg C as CO2 to the atmosphere. Additionally, there is a very large net carbon influx from the Western Pacific to the China Seas, amounting to ∼2.5 Pg C yr−1. As a first-order estimate, the total export flux of particulate organic carbon from the upper ocean of the China Seas is 240±80 Tg C yr−1. This review also attempts to examine current knowledge gaps to promote a better understanding of the carbon cycle in this important region.


Air-sea CO2 fluxes Marine biogeochemistry Marginal seas Ocean carbon cycle China Seas 



We are grateful to Dr. Zhiqiang Liu (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) for calculating the area of 38 estuaries and Yan Yang for references compiling. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 91328202 & 91428308), the Major Scientific Research Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology (Grant No. 2015CB954001), the Marine Public Welfare Project of the State Oceanic Administration (Grant No. 201505003-3), and the Global Change Program (Grant No. GASI-03-01-02-02).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qian Liu
    • 1
  • Xianghui Guo
    • 1
  • Zhiqiang Yin
    • 1
  • Kuanbo Zhou
    • 1
  • Elliott Gareth Roberts
    • 1
  • Minhan Dai
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Marine Environmental ScienceXiamen UniversityXiamenChina

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