Coastal marine uptake of CO2 around Greenland

image of Coastal marine uptake of CO2 around Greenland

The uptake rates of atmospheric CO2 in the Nordic Seas, and particularly the shelf waters around Greenland, are among the highest in the world’s oceans. The driving factors behind the air-sea exchange of CO2 in open waters are the difference between the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in the atmosphere and the surface waters, leading to an uptake in areas where the pCO2 of surface waters is lower. Because the coastal area of Greenland is very sensitive to climate change, and because it takes up more CO2 relative to other marine areas, a realistic estimate of the exchange rates is crucial in order to obtain reliable assessments of the CO2 uptake by the Greenlandic coastal area. The results from present study reveal the importance of a diminishing sea ice cover; and it is clear that the wind climate is essential to the surface uptake of CO2.




The Greenlandic coastal waters are important sinks for CO2, while they take up about 1/20 of the world’s coastal area. These estimates are based on only few measurements of pCO2, thus being highly uncertain. Furthermore, the level of pCO2 is likely to vary over the season as a result of the melting and formation of sea ice, and therefore, the flux estimate depends on the time of year the data has been collected. Precipitation of brine and CO2 from the sea ice, leading to under saturation of the pCO2 in surface water, is suggested to be an important process related to ice formation. Similarly, our calculations suggest that the emission to the atmosphere during the formation of sea ice can be significant if the emission rates suggested by Nomura et al. (2006) are valid.


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