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Carbon outgassing in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is supported by Ekman transport from the sea ice zone in an observation-based seasonal mixed-layer budget
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  • Jade Sauvé,
  • Alison Gray,
  • Channing J. Prend,
  • Seth M Bushinsky,
  • Stephen Riser
Jade Sauvé
University of Washington

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Alison Gray
University of Washington
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Channing J. Prend
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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Seth M Bushinsky
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
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Stephen Riser
University of Washington
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Despite its importance for the global cycling of carbon, there are still large gaps in our understanding of the processes driving annual and seasonal carbon fluxes in the high-latitude Southern Ocean. This is due in part to an historical paucity of observations in this remote, turbulent, and seasonally ice-covered region. Here, we use autonomous biogeochemical float data spanning 6 full seasonal cycles and with circumpolar coverage of the Southern Ocean, complemented by atmospheric reanalysis, to construct a monthly mixed layer budget of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). We investigate the processes that determine the annual mean and seasonal cycle of DIC fluxes in two different frontal zones of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC)—the Sea Ice Zone (SIZ) and Antarctic Southern Zone (ASZ). We find that, annually, mixing with carbon-rich waters at the base of the mixed layer supplies DIC which is then, in the ASZ, either used for net biological production or outgassed to the atmosphere. In contrast, in the SIZ, where carbon outgassing and the biological pump are weaker, the surplus of DIC is instead advected northward to the ASZ. In other words, carbon outgassing in the southern ACC, which has been attributed to remineralized carbon from deep water upwelled in the ACC, is also due to the wind-driven transport of DIC from the SIZ. These results stem from the first observation-based carbon budget of the circumpolar Southern Ocean and thus provide a useful benchmark to evaluate climate models, which have significant biases in this region.
25 May 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
07 Jun 2023Published in ESS Open Archive