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Research Spotlight: Rain modifies ocean-atmosphere carbon dioxide exchange

Authors


Abstract

[1] Exchanges of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the atmosphere and the oceans play an important role in the global carbon cycle and in determining how much CO2 is stored in the atmosphere and how much is stored in the ocean. A new study shows that rain can be an important, though often overlooked, factor in this exchange. Rain can contribute to the air-sea carbon exchange in several ways. Rain dilutes the CO2 in the surface layer of the ocean, increases the speed at which gas is transferred between the atmosphere and ocean, and deposits carbon from the atmosphere into the ocean. To determine the effects of rain on the air-sea carbon flux in the western equatorial Pacific, Turk et al. analyzed rain measurements from a buoy at 0°, 156°E during 2002 as well as a dilution model based on observational ocean studies and output from an ocean carbon cycle model. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL045520, 2010)