Contribution of Sea-State Dependent Bubbles to Air-Sea Carbon Dioxide Fluxes

B. G. Reichl, L. Deike

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27 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL087267
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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