Breaking surface ocean waves produce bubbles that are important for air-sea gas exchanges, particularly during high winds. In this study we estimate air-sea CO2 fluxes globally using a new approach that considers the surface wave contribution to gas fluxes. We estimate that 40% of the net air-sea CO2 flux is via bubbles, with annual, seasonal, and regional variability. When compared to traditional gas-flux parameterization methods that consider the wind speed alone, we find high-frequency (daily to weekly) differences in the predicted gas flux using the sea-state dependent method at spatial scales related to atmospheric weather (10 to 100 km). Seasonal net differences in the air-sea CO2 flux due to the sea-state dependence can exceed 20%, with the largest values associated with North Atlantic and North Pacific winter storms. These results confirm that bubbles are important for global gas-flux dynamics and that sea-state dependent parameterizations may improve performance of global coupled models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences