Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Special issue:
07 Mar 2005
07 Mar 2005

The carbon budget of the North Sea

H. Thomas, Y. Bozec, H. J. W. de Baar, K. Elkalay, M. Frankignoulle, L.-S. Schiettecatte, G. Kattner, and A. V. Borges

Abstract. A carbon budget has been established for the North Sea, a shelf sea on the NW European continental shelf. The carbon exchange fluxes with the North Atlantic Ocean dominate the gross carbon budget. The net carbon budget – more relevant to the issue of the contribution of the coastal ocean to the marine carbon cycle – is dominated by the carbon inputs from rivers, the Baltic Sea and the atmosphere. The North Sea acts as a sink for organic carbon and thus can be characterised as a heterotrophic system. The dominant carbon sink is the final export to the North Atlantic Ocean. More than 90% of the CO2 taken up from the atmosphere is exported to the North Atlantic Ocean making the North Sea a highly efficient continental shelf pump for carbon.

Special issue
Final-revised paper