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Disentangling Carbon Concentration Changes Along Pathways of North Atlantic Subtropical Mode Water
  • Daan Reijnders,
  • Dorothee C. E. Bakker,
  • Erik Van Sebille
Daan Reijnders
Utrecht University

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Dorothee C. E. Bakker
University of East Anglia
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Erik Van Sebille
Utrecht University
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North Atlantic Subtropical Mode Water (NASTMW) serves as a major conduit for dissolved carbon to penetrate into the ocean interior by its wintertime outcropping events. Prior research on NASTMW has concentrated on its physical formation and destruction, as well as Lagrangian pathways and timescales of water into and out of NASTMW. In this study, we examine how dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations are modified along Lagrangian pathways of NASTMW on subannual timescales. We introduce Lagrangian parcels into a physical-biogeochemical model and release these parcels annually over two decades. For different pathways into, out of, and within NASTMW, we calculate changes in DIC concentrations along the path (ΔDIC), distinguishing contributions from vertical mixing and biogeochemical processes. While the mean ΔDIC for parcels that persist within NASTMW in one year is relatively small at +6 µmol/L, this masks underlying dynamics: individual parcels undergo interspersed DIC depletion and enrichment, spanning several timescales and magnitudes. The strongest ΔDIC is during subduction of water parcels (+101 µmol/L  in one year), followed by transport out of NASTMW due to increases in density in water parcels (+10 µmol/L). Most DIC enrichment and depletion regimes span timescales of weeks, related to phytoplankton blooms. However, mixing and biogeochemical processes often oppose one another at short timescales, so the largest net DIC changes occur at timescales of more than 30 days. Our new Lagrangian approach complements bulk Eulerian approaches, which average out this underlying complexity, and is relevant to other biogeochemical studies, for example on marine carbon dioxide removal.
01 May 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
02 May 2024Published in ESS Open Archive