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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33 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. Key PointsWeddell Sea deep convection ceases with climate change in model simulationsCessation of deep convection has strong impact on projected oceanic CO2 uptakePotential of deep convection to cause intermodel spread in oceanic CO2 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
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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


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