Impact of Weddell Sea deep convection on natural and anthropogenic carbon in a climate model

Raffaele Bernardello, Irina Marinov, Jaime B. Palter, Eric D. Galbraith, Jorge Louis Sarmiento

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39 Scopus citations


A climate model is used to investigate the influence of Weddell Sea open ocean deep convection on anthropogenic and natural carbon uptake for the period 1860-2100. In a three-member ensemble climate change simulation, convection ceases on average by year 1981, weakening the net oceanic cumulative uptake of atmospheric CO2 by year 2100 (-4.3 Pg C) relative to an ocean that has continued convection. This net weakening results from a decrease in anthropogenic carbon uptake (-10.1 Pg C), partly offset by an increase in natural carbon storage (+5.8 Pg C). Despite representing only 4% of its area, the Weddell Sea is responsible for 22% of the Southern Ocean decrease in total climate-driven carbon uptake and 52% of the decrease in the anthropogenic component of oceanic uptake. Although this is a model-specific result, it illustrates the potential of deep convection to produce an intermodel spread in future projections of ocean carbon uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7262-7269
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Weddell sea
  • carbon uptake
  • climate change
  • open ocean deep convection


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