Competition between ocean carbon pumps in simulations with varying Southern Hemisphere westerly wind forcing

Abstract

We analyse the impact of migration and strength of Southern Hemisphere westerly winds on the ocean carbon cycle in a systematic sensitivity study with the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model. We find that changes in the biological pump are mainly driven by changes in ocean residence times while changes in export production are negligible. Changes in the biological and physical pumps are always of opposite sign; with the physical pump being dominant for southward shifts and the biological pump being dominant for northward shifts. Furthermore, changes in the Pacific Ocean carbon budget dictate the overall changes in global marine and atmospheric carbon. Overall, atmospheric \(\hbox {CO}_2\) increases (and \(\Delta ^{14}\hbox {C}\) decreases) for northward shifts or a strengthening in wind forcing. The opposite is true for a southward shift or a weakening in wind forcing. Combining forcings (shift and intensity change) results in a combination of their impacts with the direction of the shift being the first order forcing. The terrestrial carbon reservoir absorbs (releases) 50–70 % of the net oceanic carbon loss (increase), counterbalancing the effect on atmospheric \(\hbox {CO}_2\).

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Matthew England, Chris Turney and Paul Valdes for comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The work was supported by the Australian Research Council (FT100100443, DP130104156). KJM is grateful for an award under the Merit Allocation Scheme on the NCI National Facility at the ANU. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Huiskamp, W.N., Meissner, K.J. & d’Orgeville, M. Competition between ocean carbon pumps in simulations with varying Southern Hemisphere westerly wind forcing. Clim Dyn 46, 3463–3480 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-015-2781-0

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Keywords

  • Carbon cycle
  • Southern Hemisphere westerlies
  • Southern annular mode
  • Ocean dynamics
  • Preformed and remineralized DIC