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Roland Séférian, Daniele Iudicone, Laurent Bopp, Tilla Roy, and Gurvan Madec


Impacts of climate change on air–sea CO2 exchange are strongly region dependent, particularly in the Southern Ocean. Yet, in the Southern Ocean the role of water masses in the uptake of anthropogenic carbon is still debated. Here, a methodology is applied that tracks the carbon flux of each Southern Ocean water mass in response to climate change. A global marine biogeochemical model was coupled to a climate model, making 140-yr Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5)-type simulations, where atmospheric CO2 increased by 1% yr−1 to 4 times the preindustrial concentration (4 × CO2). Impacts of atmospheric CO2 (carbon-induced sensitivity) and climate change (climate-induced sensitivity) on the water mass carbon fluxes have been isolated performing two sensitivity simulations. In the first simulation, the atmospheric CO2 influences solely the marine carbon cycle, while in the second simulation, it influences both the marine carbon cycle and earth’s climate. At 4 × CO2, the cumulative carbon uptake by the Southern Ocean reaches 278 PgC, 53% of which is taken up by modal and intermediate water masses. The carbon-induced and climate-induced sensitivities vary significantly between the water masses. The carbon-induced sensitivities enhance the carbon uptake of the water masses, particularly for the denser classes. But, enhancement strongly depends on the water mass structure. The climate-induced sensitivities either strengthen or weaken the carbon uptake and are influenced by local processes through changes in CO2 solubility and stratification, and by large-scale changes in outcrop surface (OS) areas. Changes in OS areas account for 45% of the climate-induced reduction in the Southern Ocean carbon uptake and are a key factor in understanding the future carbon uptake of the Southern Ocean.

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William R. Hobbs, Christopher Roach, Tilla Roy, Jean-Baptiste Sallée, and Nathaniel Bindoff


In this study, we compare observed Southern Ocean temperature and salinity changes with the historical simulations from 13 models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), using an optimal fingerprinting framework. We show that there is an unequivocal greenhouse gas–forced warming in the Southern Ocean. This warming is strongest in the Subantarctic Mode Waters but is also detectable in denser water masses, which has not been shown in previous studies. We also find greenhouse gas–forced salinity changes, most notably a freshening of Antarctic Intermediate Waters. Our analysis also shows that non–greenhouse gas anthropogenic forcings—anthropogenic aerosols and stratospheric ozone depletion—have played an important role in mitigating the Southern Ocean’s warming. However, the detectability of these responses using optimal fingerprinting is model dependent, and this result is therefore not as robust as for the greenhouse gas response.

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Tilla Roy, Laurent Bopp, Marion Gehlen, Birgit Schneider, Patricia Cadule, Thomas L. Frölicher, Joachim Segschneider, Jerry Tjiputra, Christoph Heinze, and Fortunat Joos


The increase in atmospheric CO2 over this century depends on the evolution of the oceanic air–sea CO2 uptake, which will be driven by the combined response to rising atmospheric CO2 itself and climate change. Here, the future oceanic CO2 uptake is simulated using an ensemble of coupled climate–carbon cycle models. The models are driven by CO2 emissions from historical data and the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A2 high-emission scenario. A linear feedback analysis successfully separates the regional future (2010–2100) oceanic CO2 uptake into a CO2-induced component, due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and a climate-induced component, due to global warming. The models capture the observation-based magnitude and distribution of anthropogenic CO2 uptake. The distributions of the climate-induced component are broadly consistent between the models, with reduced CO2 uptake in the subpolar Southern Ocean and the equatorial regions, owing to decreased CO2 solubility; and reduced CO2 uptake in the midlatitudes, owing to decreased CO2 solubility and increased vertical stratification. The magnitude of the climate-induced component is sensitive to local warming in the southern extratropics, to large freshwater fluxes in the extratropical North Atlantic Ocean, and to small changes in the CO2 solubility in the equatorial regions. In key anthropogenic CO2 uptake regions, the climate-induced component offsets the CO2-induced component at a constant proportion up until the end of this century. This amounts to approximately 50% in the northern extratropics and 25% in the southern extratropics and equatorial regions. Consequently, the detection of climate change impacts on anthropogenic CO2 uptake may be difficult without monitoring additional tracers, such as oxygen.

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