Autonomous Wintertime Observations of Air-Sea Exchange in the Gulf Stream Reveal a Perfect Storm for Ocean CO2 Uptake
Date of Original Version
A scarcity of wintertime observations of surface ocean carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) in and near the Gulf Stream creates uncertainty in the magnitude of the regional carbon sink and its controlling mechanisms. Recent observations from an Uncrewed Surface Vehicle (USV), outfitted with a payload to measure surface ocean and lower atmosphere pCO2, revealed sharp gradients in ocean pCO2 across the Gulf Stream. Surface ocean pCO2 was lower by ∼50 μatm relative to the atmosphere in the subtropical mode water (STMW) formation region. This undersaturation combined with strong wintertime winds allowed for rapid ocean uptake of CO2, averaging −11.5 mmol m−2 day−1 during the February 2019 USV mission. The unique timing of this mission revealed active STMW formation. The USV proved to be a useful tool for CO2 flux quantification in the poorly observed, dynamic western boundary current environment.
Publication Title, e.g., Journal
Geophysical Research Letters
Nickford, S., J. B. Palter, K. Donohue, A. J. Fassbender, A. R. Gray, J. Long, A. J. Sutton, N. R. Bates, and Y. Takeshita. "Autonomous Wintertime Observations of Air-Sea Exchange in the Gulf Stream Reveal a Perfect Storm for Ocean CO2 Uptake." Geophysical Research Letters 49, 5 (2022). doi: 10.1029/2021GL096805.