Articles | Volume 12, issue 9
Research article
11 May 2015
Research article |  | 11 May 2015

Sensitivity of the air–sea CO2 exchange in the Baltic Sea and Danish inner waters to atmospheric short-term variability

A. S. Lansø, J. Bendtsen, J. H. Christensen, L. L. Sørensen, H. Chen, H. A. J. Meijer, and C. Geels

Abstract. Minimising the uncertainties in estimates of air–sea CO2 exchange is an important step toward increasing the confidence in assessments of the CO2 cycle. Using an atmospheric transport model makes it possible to investigate the direct impact of atmospheric parameters on the air–sea CO2 flux along with its sensitivity to, for example, short-term temporal variability in wind speed, atmospheric mixing height and atmospheric CO2 concentration. With this study, the importance of high spatiotemporal resolution of atmospheric parameters for the air–sea CO2 flux is assessed for six sub-basins within the Baltic Sea and Danish inner waters. A new climatology of surface water partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2w) has been developed for this coastal area based on available data from monitoring stations and on-board pCO2w measuring systems. Parameterisations depending on wind speed were applied for the transfer velocity to calculate the air–sea CO2 flux. Two model simulations were conducted – one including short-term variability in atmospheric CO2 (VAT), and one where it was not included (CAT).

A seasonal cycle in the air–sea CO2 flux was found for both simulations for all sub-basins with uptake of CO2 in summer and release of CO2 to the atmosphere in winter. During the simulated period 2005–2010, the average annual net uptake of atmospheric CO2 for the Baltic Sea, Danish straits and Kattegat was 287 and 471 Gg C yr−1 for the VAT and CAT simulations, respectively. The obtained difference of 184 Gg C yr−1 was found to be significant, and thus ignoring short-term variability in atmospheric CO2 does have a sizeable effect on the air–sea CO2 exchange. The combination of the atmospheric model and the new pCO2w fields has also made it possible to make an estimate of the marine part of the Danish CO2 budget for the first time. A net annual uptake of 2613 Gg C yr−1 was found for the Danish waters.

A large uncertainty is connected to the air–sea CO2 flux in particular caused by the transfer velocity parameterisation and the applied pCO2w climatology. However, as a significant difference of 184 Gg C yr−1 is obtained between the VAT and CAT simulations, the present study underlines the importance of including short-term variability in atmospheric CO2 concentration in future model studies of the air–sea exchange in order to minimise the uncertainty.

Short summary
The air-sea CO2 exchange is investigated in the coastal region of the Baltic Sea and Danish inner waters. The impact of short-term variability in atmospheric CO2 on the air-sea CO2 exchange is examined, and it is found that ignoring short-term variability in the atmospheric CO2 creates a significant bias in the CO2 exchange. Atmospheric short-term variability is not always included in studies of the air-sea CO2 exchange, but based on the present study, we recommend it to be so in the future.
Final-revised paper