Estimates of anthropogenic carbon uptake from four three-dimensional global ocean models

Authors

  • James C. Orr,

  • Ernst Maier-Reimer,

  • Uwe Mikolajewicz,

  • Patrick Monfray,

  • Jorge L. Sarmiento,

  • J. R. Toggweiler,

  • Nicholas K. Taylor,

  • Jonathan Palmer,

  • Nicolas Gruber,

  • Christopher L. Sabine,

  • Corinne Le Quéré,

  • Robert M. Key,

  • Jacqueline Boutin


Abstract

We have compared simulations of anthropogenic CO2 in the four three-dimensional ocean models that participated in the first phase of the Ocean Carbon-Cycle Model Intercomparison Project (OCMIP), as a means to identify their major differences. Simulated global uptake agrees to within ±19%, giving a range of 1.85±0.35 Pg C yr−1 for the 1980–1989 average. Regionally, the Southern Ocean dominates the present-day air-sea flux of anthropogenic CO2 in all models, with one third to one half of the global uptake occurring south of 30°S. The highest simulated total uptake in the Southern Ocean was 70% larger than the lowest. Comparison with recent data-based estimates of anthropogenic CO2 suggest that most of the models substantially overestimate storage in the Southern Ocean; elsewhere they generally underestimate storage by less than 20%. Globally, the OCMIP models appear to bracket the real ocean's present uptake, based on comparison of regional data-based estimates of anthropogenic CO2 and bomb 14C. Column inventories of bomb 14C have become more similar to those for anthropogenic CO2 with the time that has elapsed between the Geochemical Ocean Sections Study (1970s) and World Ocean Circulation Experiment (1990s) global sampling campaigns. Our ability to evaluate simulated anthropogenic CO2 would improve if systematic errors associated with the data-based estimates could be provided regionally.

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