The role of sea ice in the carbon uptake by polar oceans

Droste, Elise (2023) The role of sea ice in the carbon uptake by polar oceans. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The Southern and Arctic Oceans are key in the regulation of our climate on Earth. They absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, thereby buffering the global impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The formation and melt of sea ice in the polar oceans significantly influences the sea-air CO2 exchange by restricting direct gas exchange across the sea-air interface, by modifying the marine carbonate chemistry, and by affecting biology. The variability of sea ice and the CO2 sink of polar oceans are therefore tightly linked. The atmospheric CO2 sink of polar oceans is highly variable in time and space. However, the processes that drive this variability are still poorly understood due to sparse spatial and temporal data coverage, especially in perennially sea ice covered regions, in winter, and at temporal resolutions high enough to capture small-scale, rapid processes.

This research studies how sea ice and other factors drive the variability in sea-air CO2 flux and the surface water carbonate chemistry on different time-scales. It uses observational carbonate chemistry data collected along the Weddell Sea coastline, the West Antarctic Peninsula coastline, and the centre of the Central Arctic Ocean, thereby covering a wide range of conditions and sea ice regimes. Findings show that the sea-air CO2 flux can be highly variable on semi-diurnal time-scales when tidal currents are strong, that wintertime processes are important to understand interannual variability in CO2 uptake by the polar ocean, and that small-scale processes, such as storms, can affect the surface layer carbonate chemistry in the seasonal transition from summer to winter. An ever-improving understanding of the processes discussed in this research is key to developing predictions of how the role of sea ice in atmospheric CO2 uptake by polar oceans, and the CO2 uptake itself, may change in a rapidly changing global climate.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2023 13:41
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 13:41

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