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    Atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences


    Ocean carbon pump decomposition and its application to CMIP5 earth system model simulations

    Akira Oka

    Ocean carbon cycle, Atmospheric CO2 concentration, Ocean carbon pump, vector diagram analysis, CMIP5 models

    Vector diagram of ocean carbon pump.

    The ocean stores 60 times as much carbon as the atmosphere, and the ocean carbon cycle has a critical role in controlling atmospheric CO2 concentration. The concept of ocean carbon pump is widely used for describing the ocean carbon cycle, but the term “ocean carbon pump” is not necessarily strictly defined and has been differently referred in previous studies. Here, using three dimensional distributions of dissolved inorganic carbon concentration, total alkalinity, phosphate, and salinity, four types of ocean carbon pump (organic matter, calcium carbonate, gas exchange, and freshwater flux pumps) were formulated. Although previously proposed decomposition emphasizes the enrichment in the deep ocean, my decomposition focuses on surface depletion which directly affects air-sea CO2 exchanges. Based on this decomposition, vector diagram for quantifying the individual roles of the pumps in controlling the ocean surface pCO2, which is in balance with atmospheric CO2 concentration, was demonstrated in this study. The method was applied to the observational climatology, and the contributions of the four carbon pump components to atmospheric CO2 were visualized in a single figure (the vector diagram); each carbon pump component was represented by one vector, and its contribution to CO2 concentration was measured from the difference in the contour values between the beginning and end of the vector. The same analysis was also applied to the CMIP5 earth system model simulations. All the models reproduced the same level of atmospheric CO2 concentration as the observation; however, the contributions from the four carbon pumps varied. The vector diagram was shown to quantify the differences in the contributions from the pumps between the models and against the observation. This study demonstrated that the proposed vector diagram analysis is a useful tool for quantifying the individual contributions of the ocean carbon pumps to atmospheric CO2 concentration and is helpful for evaluating the reproducibility of ocean carbon cycle models.