• O2/N2 ratio;
  • air-sea gas exchange;
  • atmospheric CO2;
  • atmospheric oxygen;
  • atmospheric potential oxygen;
  • rectifier effect

[1] We present a data set of atmospheric potential oxygen (APO = O2 + 1.1 × CO2) based on the atmospheric O2/N2 and CO2measurements of flask samples collected at two monitoring stations in Japan and on commercial cargo ships sailing between Japan and U.S./Canada and Australia/New Zealand. Since APO is invariant with respect to the terrestrial biotic exchange, its variation mainly reflects the spatiotemporal distribution in the air-to-sea gas exchange. From the observed APO for the years 2002–2008, we find: (1) elevated annual mean values near the equator, (2) elevated annual mean values and large seasonal amplitudes in the northwestern North Pacific, and (3) a deep trough of low annual mean values at latitudes 20–40°N in the Western Pacific. In addition, latitudinal distributions in the timing of the observed seasonal maximum and minimum show asymmetric patterns across the equator. Comparing these observations with a series of simulated APO generated in the NIES99 atmospheric transport model driven by a set of climatological oceanic O2 and CO2 flux fields, we find a good agreement except for the observed deep trough at the midlatitude. Simulations with different transport mechanisms and fluxes reveal that the seasonal covariation between oceanic O2 flux and atmospheric transport contribute significantly to the observed APO variations in the northern North Pacific; also the seasonal variation in the meridional transport affects the latitudinal difference in the seasonal cycle. The observed latitudinal gradient of the annual mean APO in the Southern Hemisphere is better reproduced by the model based on the recently revised ocean CO2 flux distribution than that based on the previous CO2 flux distribution. The observed APO trough at 36°N in the Western Pacific is about 10 per meg lower than the simulation with the more recent pCO2 data, suggesting the existence of additional APO sinks in that latitudinal region. Indeed, a model simulation performed with an additional ocean O2 sink flux of about 30 Tmol yr−1 within the region (30–50°N, 120–180°E) reproduces considerably well the observed APO trough.