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Observed decreases in oxygen content of the global ocean


Helm, KP and Bindoff, NL and Church, JA, Observed decreases in oxygen content of the global ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, 38, (23) Article L23602. ISSN 2156-2202 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1029/2011GL049513


Comparing the high-quality oxygen climatology from the World Ocean Circulation Experiment to earlier data we reveal near-global decreases in oxygen levels in the upper ocean between the 1970s and the 1990s. This globally averaged oxygen decrease is −0.93 ± 0.23 µmol l−1, which is equivalent to annual oxygen losses of −0.55 ± 0.13 × 1014 mol yr−1 (100–1000 m). The strongest decreases in oxygen occur in the mid-latitudes of both hemispheres, near regions where there is strong water renewal and exchange between the ocean interior and surface waters. Approximately 15% of global oxygen decrease can be explained by a warmer mixed-layer reducing the capacity of water to store oxygen, while the remainder is consistent with an overall decrease in the exchange between surface waters and the ocean interior. Here we suggest that this reduction in water mass renewal rates on a global scale is a consequence of increased stratification caused by warmer surface waters. These observations support climate model simulations of oxygen change under global warming scenarios.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:oxygen, ocean, World Ocean Circulation Experiment, global oxygen decrease, climate change
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Helm, KP (Mr Kieran Helm)
UTAS Author:Bindoff, NL (Professor Nathan Bindoff)
UTAS Author:Church, JA (Dr John Church)
ID Code:76861
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:169
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2012-03-14
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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