An updated anthropogenic CO2 inventory in the Atlantic Ocean

K. Lee, S. D. Choi, G. H. Park, R. Wanninkhof, T. H. Peng, R. M. Key, C. L. Sabine, R. A. Feely, J. L. Bullister, F. J. Millero, Alex Kozyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the basin-wide inventory of anthropogenic CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean based on high-quality inorganic carbon, alkalinity, chlorofluorocarbon, and nutrient data collected during the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) Hydrographic Program, the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and the Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study (OACES) surveys of the Atlantic Ocean between 1990 and 1998. Anthropogenic CO2 was separated from the large pool of dissolved inorganic carbon using an extended version of the ΔC*method originally developed by Gruber et al. [ 1996]. The extension of the method includes the use of an optimum multiparameter analysis to determine the relative contributions from various source water types to the sample on an isopyenal surface. Total inventories of anthropogenic CO2 in the Atlantic Ocean are highest in the subtropical regions at 20°-40°, whereas anthropogenic CO2 penetrates the deepest in high-latitude regions (>40°N). The deeper penetration at high northern latitudes is largely due to the formation of deep water that feeds the Deep Western Boundary Current, which transports anthropogenic CO2 into the interior. In contrast, waters south of 50°S in the Southern Ocean contain little anthropogenic CO2. Analysis of the data collected during the 1990-1998 period yielded a total anthropogenic CO2 inventory of 28.4 ± 4.7 Pg C in the North Atlantic (equator-70°N) and of 18.5 ± 3.9 Pg C in the South Atlantic (equator-70°S). These estimated basin-wide inventories of anthropogenic CO2 are in good agreement with previous estimates obtained by Gruber [1998], after accounting for the difference in observational periods. Our calculation of the anthropogenic CO2 inventory in the Atlantic Ocean, in conjunction with the inventories calculated previously for the Indian Ocean [Sabine et al., 1999] and for the Pacific Ocean [Sabine et al., 2002], yields a global anthropogenic CO2 inventory of 112 2 ± 17 Pg C that has accumulated in the world oceans during the industrial era. This global oceanic uptake accounts for approximately 29% of the total CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, land-use changes, and cement production during the past 250 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-1 - 27-17
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Air-sea disequilibrium
  • Atlantic Ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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