Articles | Volume 13, issue 14
Research article
22 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 22 Jul 2016

Coastal-ocean uptake of anthropogenic carbon

Timothée Bourgeois, James C. Orr, Laure Resplandy, Jens Terhaar, Christian Ethé, Marion Gehlen, and Laurent Bopp

Abstract. Anthropogenic changes in atmosphere–ocean and atmosphere–land CO2 fluxes have been quantified extensively, but few studies have addressed the connection between land and ocean. In this transition zone, the coastal ocean, spatial and temporal data coverage is inadequate to assess its global budget. Thus we use a global ocean biogeochemical model to assess the coastal ocean's global inventory of anthropogenic CO2 and its spatial variability. We used an intermediate resolution, eddying version of the NEMO-PISCES model (ORCA05), varying from 20 to 50 km horizontally, i.e. coarse enough to allow multiple century-scale simulations but finer than coarse-resolution models (∼  200 km) to better resolve coastal bathymetry and complex coastal currents. Here we define the coastal zone as the continental shelf area, excluding the proximal zone. Evaluation of the simulated air–sea fluxes of total CO2 for 45 coastal regions gave a correlation coefficient R of 0.8 when compared to observation-based estimates. Simulated global uptake of anthropogenic carbon results averaged 2.3 Pg C yr−1 during the years 1993–2012, consistent with previous estimates. Yet only 0.1 Pg C yr−1 of that is absorbed by the global coastal ocean. That represents 4.5 % of the anthropogenic carbon uptake of the global ocean, less than the 7.5 % proportion of coastal-to-global-ocean surface areas. Coastal uptake is weakened due to a bottleneck in offshore transport, which is inadequate to reduce the mean anthropogenic carbon concentration of coastal waters to the mean level found in the open-ocean mixed layer.

Please read the corrigendum first before accessing the article.


The requested paper has a corresponding corrigendum published. Please read the corrigendum first before downloading the article.

Short summary
The global coastal ocean took up 0.1 Pg C yr−1 of anthropogenic carbon during 1993–2012 based on new biogeochemical simulations with an eddying 3-D global model. That is about half of the most recent estimate, an extrapolation based on surface areas. It should not be confused with the continental shelf pump, perhaps 10 times larger, which includes natural as well as anthropogenic carbon. Coastal uptake of anthropogenic carbon is limited by its offshore transport.
Final-revised paper