Temporal variability of the anthropogenic CO2 storage in the Irminger Sea
Abstract. The anthropogenic CO2 (Cant) estimates from cruises spanning more than two decades (1981–2006) in the Irminger Sea area of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre reveal a large variability in the Cant storage rates. During the early 1990's, the Cant storage rates (2.3±0.6 mol C m−2 yr−1) doubled the average rate for 1981–2006 (1.1±0.1 mol C m−2 yr−1), whilst a remarkable drop to almost half that average followed from 1997 onwards. The Cant storage evolution runs parallel to chlorofluorocarbon-12 inventories and is in good agreement with Cant uptake rates of increase calculated from sea surface pCO2 measurements. The contribution of the Labrador Seawater to the total inventory of Cant in the Irminger basin dropped from 66% in the early 1990s to 49% in the early 2000s. The North Atlantic Oscillation shift from a positive to a negative phase in 1996 led to a reduction of air-sea heat loss in the Labrador Sea. The consequent convection weakening accompanied by an increase in stratification has lowered the efficiency of the northern North Atlantic CO2 sink.