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Impact of Weddell Sea deep convection on natural and anthropogenic carbon in a climate model

Bernardello, R., Marinov, I., Palter, J. B., Galbraith, E. D., Sarmiento, J. L.
2 014
Geophysical Research Letters
A climate model is used to investigate the influence of Weddell Sea open ocean deep convection on anthropogenic and natural carbon uptake for the period 1860-2100. In a three-member ensemble climate change simulation, convection ceases on average by year 1981, weakening the net oceanic cumulative uptake of atmospheric CO2 by year 2100 (-4.3 Pg C) relative to an ocean that has continued convection. This net weakening results from a decrease in anthropogenic carbon uptake (-10.1 Pg C), partly offset by an increase in natural carbon storage (+5.8 Pg C). Despite representing only 4% of its area, the Weddell Sea is responsible for 22% of the Southern Ocean decrease in total climate-driven carbon uptake and 52% of the decrease in the anthropogenic component of oceanic uptake. Although this is a model-specific result, it illustrates the potential of deep convection to produce an intermodel spread in future projections of ocean carbon uptake.
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