Biological carbon pump sequestration efficiency in the North Atlantic: A leaky or a long‐term sink?

Baker, Chelsey A. ORCID:; Martin, Adrian P. ORCID:; Yool, Andrew ORCID:; Popova, Ekaterina ORCID: 2022 Biological carbon pump sequestration efficiency in the North Atlantic: A leaky or a long‐term sink? Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 36 (6).

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The North Atlantic Ocean is a key region for carbon sequestration by the biological carbon pump (BCP). The quantity of organic carbon exported from the surface, the region and depth at which it is remineralized, and the subsequent timescale of ventilation (return of the remineralized carbon back into contact with the atmosphere), control the magnitude of BCP sequestration. Carbon stored in the ocean for >100 years is assumed to be sequestered for climate-relevant timescales. We apply Lagrangian tracking to an ocean circulation and marine biogeochemistry model to determine the fate of North Atlantic organic carbon export. Organic carbon assumed to undergo remineralization at each of three vertical horizons (500, 1,000, and 2,000 m) is tracked to determine how much remains out of contact with the atmosphere for 100 years. The fraction that remains below the mixed layer for 100 years is defined as the sequestration efficiency (SEff) of remineralized exported carbon. For exported carbon remineralized at the 500, 1,000 and 2,000 m horizons, the SEff is 28%, 66% and 94%, respectively. Calculating the amount of carbon sequestered using depths ≤1,000 m, and not accounting for downstream ventilation, overestimates 100-year carbon sequestration by at least 39%. This work has implications for the accuracy of future carbon sequestration estimates, which may be overstated, and for carbon management strategies (e.g., oceanic carbon dioxide removal and Blue Carbon schemes) that require long-term sequestration to be successful.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0886-6236
Date made live: 14 Jun 2022 16:55 +0 (UTC)

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