Modeling pCO2 variability in the Gulf of Mexico

Zuo Xue, Ruoying He, Katja Fennel, Wei Jun Cai, Steven Lohrenz, Wei Jen Huang, Hanqin Tian, Wei Ren, Zhengchen Zang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A three-dimensional coupled physical-biogeochemical model was used to simulate and examine temporal and spatial variability of sea surface pCO2 in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The model was driven by realistic atmospheric forcing, open boundary conditions from a dataassimilative global ocean circulation model, and observed freshwater and terrestrial nutrient and carbon input from major rivers. A 7-year model hindcast (2004-2010) was performed and validated against ship measurements. Model results revealed clear seasonality in surface pCO2 and were used to estimate carbon budgets in the Gulf. Based on the average of model simulations, the GoM was a net CO2 sink with a flux of 1.11±0.84×1012 mol Cyr-1, which, together with the enormous fluvial inorganic carbon input, was comparable to the inorganic carbon export through the Loop Current. Two model sensitivity experiments were performed: one without biological sources and sinks and the other using river input from the 1904-1910 period as simulated by the Dynamic Land Ecosystem Model (DLEM). It was found that biological uptake was the primary driver making GoM an overall CO2 sink and that the carbon flux in the northern GoM was very susceptible to changes in river forcing. Large uncertainties in model simulations warrant further process-based investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4359-4377
Number of pages19
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 8 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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