The seasonal pCO2 cycle at 49°N/16.5°W in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and what it tells us about biological productivity

A. Körtzinger, U. Send, R. S. Lampitt, S. Hartman, D. W.R. Wallace, J. Karstensen, M. G. Villagarcia, O. Llinás, M. D. DeGrandpre

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A 2-year record of mixed layer measurements of CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), nitrate, and other physical, chemical, and biological parameters at a time series site in the northeast Atlantic Ocean (49°N/16.5°W) is presented. The data show average undersaturation of surface waters with respect to atmospheric CO2 levels by about 40 ± 15 μatm, which gives rise to a perennial CO2 sink of 3.2 ± 1.3 mol m-2 a-1. The seasonal pCO2 cycle is characterized by a summer minimum (winter maximum), which is due to the dominance of biological forcing over physical forcing. Our data document a rapid transition from deep mixing to shallow summer stratification. At the onset of shallow stratification, up to one third of the mixed layer net community production during the productive season had already been accomplished. The combination of high prestratification productivity and rapid onset of stratification appears to have caused the observed particle flux peak early in the season. Mixed layer deepening during fall and winter reventilated CO2 from subsurface respiration of newly exported organic matter, thereby negating more than one third of the carbon drawdown by net community production in the mixed layer. Chemical signatures of both net community production and respiration are indicative of carbon overconsumption, the effects of which may be restricted, though, to the upper ocean. A comparison of the estimated net community production with satellite-based estimates of net primary production shows fundamental discrepancies in the timing of ocean productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC04020
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 8 2008


FundersFunder number
Natural Environment Research Councilsoc010012, soc010008


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