EGU24-16495, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Mean, Seasonal Cycle, Trends, and Storage of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle in the RECCAP2 assessment (1985-2018)

Lavinia Patara1, Judith Hauck2, Luke Gregor3, Cara Nissen4, Mark Hague3, Precious Mongwe5, Seth Bushinsky6, Scott C. Doney7, Nicolas Gruber3, Corinne Le Quéré8, Manfredi Manizza9, Matthew Mazloff9, and Pedro M. S. Monteiro10
Lavinia Patara et al.
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics, Kiel, Germany (
  • 2Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3Environmental Physics, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, USA
  • 5Southern Ocean Carbon-Climate Observatory, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa
  • 6University of Hawai'i Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, USA
  • 7Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
  • 8School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
  • 9Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA
  • 10School for Climate Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The Southern Ocean has long been known to be an important region for ocean CO2 uptake, and one which is especially sensitive to changes in the overlying climate. Here we assess the Southern Ocean CO2 uptake (1985–2018) using data sets gathered in the REgional Carbon Cycle Assessment and Processes Project Phase 2 (RECCAP2). These include global ocean biogeochemical models (GOBMs), surface ocean pCO2-products, data-assimilated models, and interior ocean biogeochemical observations. Over this period the Southern Ocean acted as a sink for CO2, with magnitudes which are roughly half of those reported by RECCAP1 for the same region and timeframe. Close agreement is found between GOBMs and pCO2-products, partly due to some compensation of seasonal and regional differences. Seasonal analyses revealed agreement in driving processes in winter (with uncertainty in the magnitude of outgassing), whereas discrepancies are more fundamental in summer, when GOBMs exhibit difficulties in simulating the balance of non-thermal processes of biology and mixing/circulation. The data sets emphasize strong latitudinal variations in the mean and seasonality of the CO2 flux and asymmetries in the mean and amplitude of the CO2 flux between Atlantic, Pacific and Indian sectors. The present-day net uptake is to first order a response to rising atmospheric CO2. This drives large amounts of anthropogenic CO2 (Cant) into the ocean, thereby overcompensating the loss of natural CO2 to the atmosphere driven by the changing climate. The GOBMs show, however, a 20% spread and an overall underestimate of Cant storage in the ocean interior. An apparent knowledge gap is the increase of the sink since 2000, with pCO2-products suggesting a growth that is more than twice as strong and uncertain as that of GOBMs. This is despite nearly identical pCO2 trends in GOBMs and pCO2-products when both products are compared only at the locations where pCO2 was measured.

How to cite: Patara, L., Hauck, J., Gregor, L., Nissen, C., Hague, M., Mongwe, P., Bushinsky, S., Doney, S. C., Gruber, N., Le Quéré, C., Manizza, M., Mazloff, M., and Monteiro, P. M. S.: Mean, Seasonal Cycle, Trends, and Storage of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle in the RECCAP2 assessment (1985-2018), EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-16495,, 2024.