Estimation of Anthropogenic CO2 Inventories in the Ocean

Annual Review of Marine Science

Vol. 2:175-198 (Volume publication date 15 January 2010)
First published online as a Review in Advance on October 1, 2009


A significant impetus for recent ocean biogeochemical research has been to better understand the ocean's role as a sink for anthropogenic CO2. In the 1990s the global carbon survey of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) inspired the development of several approaches for estimating anthropogenic carbon inventories in the ocean interior. Most approaches agree that the total global ocean inventory of Cant was around 120 Pg C in the mid-1990s. Today, the ocean carbon uptake rate estimates suggest that the ocean is not keeping pace with the CO2 emissions growth rate. Repeat occupations of the WOCE/JGOFS survey lines consistently show increases in carbon inventories over the last decade, but have not yet been synthesized enough to verify a slowdown in the carbon storage rate. There are many uncertainties in the future ocean carbon storage. Continued observations are necessary to monitor changes and understand mechanisms controlling ocean carbon uptake and storage in the future.