The variability and seasonal cycle of the Southern Ocean carbon flux

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Hsu, Wei-Ching
Ito, Takamitsu
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Both physical circulation and biogeochemical characteristics are unique in the Southern Ocean (SO) region, and are fundamentally different from those of the northern hemisphere. Moreover, according to previous research, the oceanic response to the trend of the Southern Annual Mode (SAM) has profound impacts on the future oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide in the SO. In other words, the climate and circulation of the SO are strongly coupled to the overlying atmospheric variability. However, while we have understanding on the SO physical circulation and have the ability to predict the future changes of the SO climate and physical processes, the link between the SO physical processes, the air-sea carbon flux, and correlated climate variability remains unknown. Even though scientists have been studying the spatial and temporal variability of the SO carbon flux and the associated biogeochemical processes, the spatial patterns and the magnitudes of the air-sea carbon flux do not agree between models and observations. Therefore, in this study, we utilized a modified version of a general circulation model (GCM) to performed realistic simulations of the SO carbon on seasonal to interannual timescales, and focused on the crucial physical and biogeochemical processes that control the carbon flux. The spatial pattern and the seasonal cycle of the air-sea carbon dioxide flux is calculated, and is broadly consistent with the climatological observations. The variability of air-sea carbon flux is mainly controlled by the gas exchange rate and the partial pressure of carbon dioxide, which is in turn controlled by the compensating changes in temperature and dissolved inorganic carbon. We investigated the seasonal variability of dissolved inorganic carbon based on different regional processes. Furthermore, we also investigated the dynamical adjustment of the surface carbon flux in response to the different gas exchange parameterizations, and conclude that parameterization has little impact on spatially integrated carbon flux. Our simulation well captured the SO carbon cycle variability on seasonal to interannual timescales, and we will improve our model by employ a better scheme of nutrient cycle, and consider more nutrients as well as ecological processes in our future study.
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