Articles | Volume 6, issue 5
25 May 2009
 | 25 May 2009

Impact of enhanced vertical mixing on marine biogeochemistry: lessons for geo-engineering and natural variability

S. Dutreuil, L. Bopp, and A. Tagliabue

Abstract. Artificially enhanced vertical mixing has been suggested as a means by which to fertilize the biological pump with subsurface nutrients and thus increase the oceanic CO2 sink. We use an ocean general circulation and biogeochemistry model (OGCBM) to examine the impact of artificially enhanced vertical mixing on biological productivity and atmospheric CO2, as well as the climatically significant gases nitrous oxide (N2O) and dimethyl sulphide (DMS) during simulations between 2000 and 2020. Overall, we find a large increase in the amount of organic carbon exported from surface waters, but an overall increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 2020. We quantified the individual effect of changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), alkalinity and biological production on the change in pCO2 at characteristic sites and found the increased vertical supply of carbon rich subsurface water to be primarily responsible for the enhanced CO2 outgassing, although increased alkalinity and, to a lesser degree, biological production can compensate in some regions. While ocean-atmosphere fluxes of DMS do increase slightly, which might reduce radiative forcing, the oceanic N2O source also expands. Our study has implications for understanding how natural variability in vertical mixing in different ocean regions (such as that observed recently in the Southern Ocean) can impact the ocean CO2 sink via changes in DIC, alkalinity and carbon export.

Final-revised paper