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The Disproportionate Role of Ocean Topography on the Upwelling of Carbon in the Southern Ocean
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  • Riley Xavier Brady,
  • Mathew E Maltrud,
  • Phillip Justin Wolfram Jr.,
  • Henri Francois Drake,
  • Nicole Suzanne Lovenduski
Riley Xavier Brady
University of Colorado Boulder

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mathew E Maltrud
Los Alamos National Laboratory (DOE)
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Phillip Justin Wolfram Jr.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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Henri Francois Drake
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Nicole Suzanne Lovenduski
University of Colorado Boulder
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The physical circulation of the Southern Ocean sets the surface concentration and thus air-sea exchange of CO2. However, we have a limited understanding of the three-dimensional circulation that brings deep carbon-rich waters to the surface. Here, we introduce and analyze a novel high-resolution ocean model simulation with active biogeochemistry and online Lagrangian particle tracking. We focus our attention on a subset of particles with high dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) that originate below 1000 m and eventually upwell into the surface mixed layer. We find that 71% of the DIC-enriched water upwelling across 1000 m is concentrated near topographic features, which occupy just 33% of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Once particles upwell to the surface mixed layer, their DIC decorrelates on timescales of ~1.5 months—an order of magnitude longer than their residence time. Our results show that Southern Ocean bathymetry plays a key role in delivering carbon-rich waters to the surface.