Uptake by the Atlantic Ocean of Excess Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Radiocarbon

  1. A. Berger,
  2. R. E. Dickinson and
  3. John W. Kidson
  1. Bert Bolin1,
  2. Anders Björkström1 and
  3. Berrien Moore2

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM052p0057

Understanding Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change

How to Cite

Bolin, B., Björkström, A. and Moore, B. (1989) Uptake by the Atlantic Ocean of Excess Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Radiocarbon, in Understanding Climate Change (eds A. Berger, R. E. Dickinson and J. W. Kidson), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM052p0057

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Meteorology, University of Stockholm, Sweden

  2. 2

    University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875904573

Online ISBN: 9781118666517



  • Climate changes—Congresses


Inverse methods have been used to deduce water circulation, spatial patterns of turbulent exchange and biological activity in the Atlantic Ocean, by using a set of stationary tracers and a condition of quasi-geostrophic flow. The solution yields a direct meridional circulation cell with descending motion in the northern Atlantic with an intensity of 20–25 Sverdrup, a reasonable distribution of vertical turbulent transfer in the uppermost ocean layers and comparatively large rates of detritus formation, about 4.5 Pg C yr−1 The solution is used to compute the invasion of tritium 1955–1983, and the uptake of excess radiocarbon and carbon dioxide during the period 1760–1983. A fair agreement between computed and observed changes of tritium and 14C is obtained, but the period of observations is too short to serve as a conclusive test of the model. The uptake of carbon dioxide during the 220 years period into the Atlantic Ocean is 33±5 Pg and it is further found that significant variations of the uptake fraction of the CO2 emissions may have occurred due to varying rates of emissions in course of time. The conclusion is tentatively drawn that the ocean and its carbonate system may not have been the only sink for anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Means for how to further improve the model and its capability to reproduce the ocean behaviour are discussed.