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Stationary Rossby waves dominate subduction of anthropogenic carbon in the Southern Ocean


Langlais, CE and Lenton, A and Matear, R and Monselesan, D and Legresy, B and Cougnon, E and Rintoul, S, Stationary Rossby waves dominate subduction of anthropogenic carbon in the Southern Ocean, Scientific Reports, 7 Article 17076. ISSN 2045-2322 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-017-17292-3


The Southern Ocean has taken up more than 40% of the total anthropogenic carbon (Cant) stored in the oceans since the preindustrial era, mainly in subantarctic mode and intermediate waters (SAMW-AAIW). However, the physical mechanisms responsible for the transfer of Cant into the ocean interior remain poorly understood. Here, we use high resolution (1/10) ocean simulations to investigate these mechanisms at the SAMW-AAIW subduction hotspots. Mesoscale Stationary Rossby Waves (SRWs), generated where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current interacts with topography, make the dominant contribution to the Cant transfer in SAMW-AAIW in the Indian and Pacific sectors (66% and 95% respectively). Eddy-resolving simulations reproduce the observed Cant sequestration in these layers, while lower spatial resolution models, that do not reproduce SRWs, underestimate the inventory of Cant in these layers by 40% and overestimate the storage in denser layers. A key implication is that climate model simulations, that lack sufficient resolution to represent sequestration by SRWs, are therefore likely to overestimate the residence time of Cant in the ocean, with implications for simulated rates of climate change.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:biological physics, carbon cycle, marine chemistry, physical oceanography
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes
UTAS Author:Lenton, A (Dr Andrew Lenton)
UTAS Author:Legresy, B (Dr Benoit Legresy)
UTAS Author:Cougnon, E (Dr Eva Cougnon)
UTAS Author:Rintoul, S (Dr Steve Rintoul)
ID Code:123642
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2018-01-16
Last Modified:2018-05-28
Downloads:109 View Download Statistics

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