Seasonal CO2 fluxes in the tropical and subtropical Indian Ocean

C. L. Sabine, R. Wanninkhof, R. M. Key, C. Goyet, F. J. Millero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Improved estimates of the variability in air-sea CO2 fluxes on seasonal and interannual time scales are necessary to help constrain the net partitioning of CO2 between the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial biosphere. Few direct measurements of the carbon system have been made in the main Indian Ocean basin. In the mid 1990s, several global carbon measurement programs focused on the Indian Ocean, greatly increasing the existing carbon database for this basin. This study examines the combined surface CO2 measurements from three major US programs in the Indian Ocean: the global carbon survey cruises, conducted in conjunction with the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), the NOAA Ocean-Atmosphere Carbon Exchange Study (OACES) Indian Ocean survey and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) Arabian Sea Process Study. These data are fit with multiparameter linear regressions as a function of commonly measured hydrographic parameters. These fits are then used with NCEP/NCAR reanalysis and Levitus 94 gridded values to evaluate the seasonal variability of surface seawater CO2 in the tropical and subtropical Indian Ocean and to estimate the magnitude of the Indian Ocean as a net sink for atmospheric CO2. The net annual flux for the Indian Ocean (north of 36°S) was - 12.4 ± 0.5 x 1012 mol of carbon (equivalent to -0.15 Pg C) in 1995. The relatively small net flux results from the very different surface water pCO2 distributions and seasonal variations in the northern and southern Indian Ocean. The equatorial and northern hemisphere regions have values that are generally above atmospheric values. During the S-W monsoon, pCO2 values in the Arabian Sea coastal upwelling region are among the highest observed in the oceans. The upwelling is seasonal in nature, however, and only affects a relatively small area. The Indian Ocean equatorial region generally has values slightly above atmospheric. Unlike the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, however, no clear equatorial upwelling signature was observed in 1995. The Southern Hemisphere Indian Ocean, which represents the largest region by area, generally has values below atmospheric. The strongest undersaturations are observed in the austral winter, with summer values reaching near or slightly above atmospheric. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-53
Number of pages21
JournalMarine Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Flux
  • Indian Ocean
  • Sea surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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