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Publication Date
8 October 2021

The Influence of Ocean Topography on the Upwelling of Carbon in the Southern Ocean



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 1,000 m and eventually upwell into the near-surface layer (upper 200 m). We find that 71% of the DIC-enriched water upwelling across 1,000 m is concentrated near topographic features, which occupy just 33% of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Once particles upwell to the near-surface layer, they exhibit relatively uniform pCO2 levels and DIC decorrelation timescales, regardless of their origin. Our results show that Southern Ocean bathymetry plays a key role in delivering carbon-rich waters to the surface. 

Brady, Riley X., Mathew E. Maltrud, Phillip J. Wolfram, Henri F. Drake, and Nicole S. Lovenduski. 2021. “The Influence Of Ocean Topography On The Upwelling Of Carbon In The Southern Ocean”. Geophysical Research Letters 48 (19). American Geophysical Union (AGU). doi:10.1029/2021gl095088.
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