The recommended dissociation constants for carbonic acid in seawater

Kitack Lee, Frank J. Millero, Robert H. Byrne, Richard A. Feely, Rik Wanninkhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


A coherent representation of carbonate dissociation constants and measured inorganic carbon species is essential for a wide range of environmentally important issues such as oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 and carbon cycle depictions in ocean circulation models. Previous studies have shown varying degrees of discordance between calculated and measured CO2-system parameters. It is unclear if this is due to errors in thermodynamic models or in measurements. In this work, we address this issue using a large field dataset (15,300 water samples) covering all ocean basins. Our field data, obtained using laboratory-calibrated measurement protocols, are most consistent with calculated parameters using the dissociation constants of Mehrbach et al. [1973] as refit by Dickson and Mil/era [1987]. Thus, these constants are recommended for use in the synthesis of the inorganic carbon data collected during the global CO2 survey during the 1990s and for characterization of the carbonate system in seawater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-232
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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