Get access

Relationship between wind speed and gas exchange over the ocean


  • Rik Wanninkhof


Relationships between wind speed and gas transfer, combined with knowledge of the partial pressure difference of CO2 across the air-sea interface are frequently used to determine the CO2 flux between the ocean and the atmosphere. Little attention has been paid to the influence of variability in wind speed on the calculated gas transfer velocities and the possibility of chemical enhancement of CO2 exchange at low wind speeds over the ocean. The effect of these parameters is illustrated using a quadratic dependence of gas exchange on wind speed which is fit through gas transfer velocities over the ocean determined by the natural-14C disequilibrium and the bomb-14C inventory methods. Some of the variability between different data sets can be accounted for by the suggested mechanisms, but much of the variation appears due to other causes. Possible causes for the large difference between two frequently used relationships between gas transfer and wind speed are discussed. To determine fluxes of gases other than CO2 across the air-water interface, the relevant expressions for gas transfer, and the temperature and salinity dependence of the Schmidt number and solubility of several gases of environmental interest are included in an appendix.

Get access to the full text of this article