Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: A variable North Atlantic sink for anthropogenic CO2 : modelling observed change
Author: Lebehot, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 0628
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
To determine the maximum carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions consistent with a given global warming threshold, the scientific community must robustly quantify what proportion of human emitted CO2 will be taken up by the terrestrial and marine carbon reservoirs. The North Atlantic Ocean is a region of intense uptake of atmospheric CO2. To assess how the North Atlantic CO2 sink has evolved over the past decades and understand the mechanisms involved in that uptake, observations and models are used. To appreciate the strengths and limitations of observation-based and modelled products, I explore the sources of uncertain- ties of two widely-used biogeochemical observational products (GLODAP and SOCAT), and carefully evaluate the latest generation of Earth System Models (ESMs) (i.e. the CMIP5 models) against these data. The lack of robust uncertainties on observation-based estimates of the North Atlantic CO2 uptake has so far limited the community’s ability to use observed trends to evaluate CO2 uptake behaviour simulated by the models. Here, by making use of the strengths of observation-based and modelled products, a novel gap-filling and uncertainty assessment method is developed to (1) robustly quantify the recent change in the basin-wide North Atlantic CO2 sink, and (2) evaluate simulations of the recent uptake in ESMs. Through the assessment of robust interpolation uncertainties on the annually-varying North Atlantic CO2 uptake and on the resulting trends over the period 1992-2014, I find that (1) the North Atlantic CO2 uptake increased at a rate of 0.081 ± 0.012 PgC/yr/decade from 1992- 2014, corresponding to an additional uptake of 2.2 PgC over this interval relative the flux in the 1992, and (2) state-of-the-art ESMs are consistently biased to lower trend values, with a mean that is about three times smaller than the observation-based trend, equating to an additional uptake of only 0.72 ± 0.40 PgC over the period 1992-2014. I further show that the inability of these models to capture the observed increase in CO2 uptake is due primarily to biases in modelled ocean biogeochemistry, which I explore through comparison with observations. Our current understanding of the ocean carbon-cycle, as synthesised by ESMs, cannot explain the recent behaviour of the North Atlantic CO2 sink. Current projections may therefore underestimate the contribution of the North Atlantic to mitigating increasing future atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
Supervisor: Halloran, Paul R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: carbon cycle ; oceanography ; North Atlantic ; climate change ; biogeochemistry