The climate active trace-gas carbonyl sulfide (OCS) is the most abundant sulfur gas in the atmosphere. A missing source in its atmospheric budget is currently suggested, resulting from an upward revision of the vegetation sink. Tropical oceanic emissions have been proposed to close the resulting gap in the atmospheric budget. We present a bottom-up approach including (i) new observations of OCS in surface waters of the tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and (ii) a further improved global box model to show that direct OCS emissions are unlikely to account for the missing source. The box model suggests an undersaturation of the surface water with respect to OCS integrated over the entire tropical ocean area and, further, global annual direct emissions of OCS well below that suggested by top-down estimates. In addition, we discuss the potential of indirect emission from CS2 and dimethylsulfide (DMS) to account for the gap in the atmospheric budget. This bottom-up estimate of oceanic emissions has implications for using OCS as a proxy for global terrestrial CO2 uptake, which is currently impeded by the inadequate quantification of atmospheric OCS sources and sinks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science