Carbon dioxide sink in the Arctic Ocean from cross-shelf transport of dense Barents Sea water

andreas.rogge [ at ]


Large amounts of atmospheric carbon can be exported and retained in the deep sea on millennial time scales, buffering global warming. However, while the Barents Sea is one of the most biologically productive areas of the Arctic Ocean, carbon retention times were thought to be short. Here we present observations, complemented by numerical model simulations, that revealed a deep and widespread lateral injection of approximately 2.33 kt C d−1 from the Barents Sea shelf to some 1,200 m of the Nansen Basin, driven by Barents Sea Bottom Water transport. With increasing distance from the outflow region, the plume expanded and penetrated into even deeper waters and the sediment. The seasonally fluctuating but continuous injection increases the carbon sequestration of the Barents Sea by 1/3 and feeds the deep sea community of the Nansen Basin. Our findings combined with those from other outflow regions of carbon-rich polar dense waters highlight the importance of lateral injection as a global carbon sink. Resolving uncertainties around negative feedbacks of global warming due to sea ice decline will necessitate observation of changes in bottom water formation and biological productivity at a resolution high enough to quantify future deep carbon injection.

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DOI 10.1038/s41561-022-01069-z

Cite as
Rogge, A. , Janout, M. , Loginova, N. , Trudnowska, E. , Hörstmann, C. , Wekerle, C. , Oziel, L. , Schourup-Kristensen, V. , Ruiz-Castillo, E. , Schulz, K. , Povazhnyy, V. V. , Iversen, M. H. and Waite, A. M. (2023): Carbon dioxide sink in the Arctic Ocean from cross-shelf transport of dense Barents Sea water , Nature Geoscience, 16 (1), pp. 82-88 . doi: 10.1038/s41561-022-01069-z

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