Articles | Volume 12, issue 18
Research article
18 Sep 2015
Research article |  | 18 Sep 2015

Dynamics of air–sea CO2 fluxes in the northwestern European shelf based on voluntary observing ship and satellite observations

P. Marrec, T. Cariou, E. Macé, P. Morin, L. A. Salt, M. Vernet, B. Taylor, K. Paxman, and Y. Bozec

Abstract. From January 2011 to December 2013, we constructed a comprehensive pCO2 data set based on voluntary observing ship (VOS) measurements in the western English Channel (WEC). We subsequently estimated surface pCO2 and air–sea CO2 fluxes in northwestern European continental shelf waters using multiple linear regressions (MLRs) from remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST), chlorophyll a concentration (Chl a), wind speed (WND), photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and modeled mixed layer depth (MLD). We developed specific MLRs for the seasonally stratified northern WEC (nWEC) and the permanently well-mixed southern WEC (sWEC) and calculated surface pCO2 with uncertainties of 17 and 16 μatm, respectively. We extrapolated the relationships obtained for the WEC based on the 2011–2013 data set (1) temporally over a decade and (2) spatially in the adjacent Celtic and Irish seas (CS and IS), two regions which exhibit hydrographical and biogeochemical characteristics similar to those of WEC waters. We validated these extrapolations with pCO2 data from the SOCAT and LDEO databases and obtained good agreement between modeled and observed data. On an annual scale, seasonally stratified systems acted as a sink of CO2 from the atmosphere of −0.6 ± 0.3, −0.9 ± 0.3 and −0.5 ± 0.3 mol C m−2 yr−1 in the northern Celtic Sea, southern Celtic sea and nWEC, respectively, whereas permanently well-mixed systems acted as source of CO2 to the atmosphere of 0.2 ± 0.2 and 0.3 ± 0.2 mol C m−2 yr−1 in the sWEC and IS, respectively. Air–sea CO2 fluxes showed important inter-annual variability resulting in significant differences in the intensity and/or direction of annual fluxes. We scaled the mean annual fluxes over these provinces for the last decade and obtained the first annual average uptake of −1.11 ± 0.32 Tg C yr−1 for this part of the northwestern European continental shelf. Our study showed that combining VOS data with satellite observations can be a powerful tool to estimate and extrapolate air–sea CO2 fluxes in sparsely sampled area.

Final-revised paper