Air-sea CO2 fluxes on the Bering Sea shelf
1Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, Ferry Reach, Bermuda
2University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, USA
3University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
Abstract. There have been few previous studies of surface seawater CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) variability and air-sea CO2 gas exchange rates for the Bering Sea shelf which is the largest US coastal shelf sea. In 2008, spring and summertime observations were collected in the Bering Sea shelf as part of the Bering Sea Ecological Study (BEST). Our results indicate that the Bering Sea shelf was close to neutral in terms of CO2 sink-source status in springtime due to relatively small air-sea CO2 gradients (i.e., Δ pCO2) and sea-ice cover. However, by summertime, very low seawater pCO2 values were observed and much of the Bering Sea shelf became strongly undersaturated with respect to atmosphere CO2 concentrations. Thus the Bering Sea shelf transitions seasonally from mostly neutral conditions to a strong oceanic sink for atmospheric CO2 particularly in the "green belt" region of the Bering Sea. Ocean biological processes dominate the seasonal drawdown of seawater pCO2 for large areas of the Bering Sea shelf, with the effect partly countered by seasonal warming. In small areas of the Bering Sea shelf south of the Pribilof Islands and in the SE Bering Sea, seasonal warming is the dominant influence on seawater pCO2, shifting localized areas of the shelf from minor/neutral CO2 sink status to neutral/minor CO2 source status, in contrast to much of the Bering Sea shelf. We compute that the Bering Sea shelf CO2 sink in 2008 was 157 Tg C yr−1 (Tg = 1012 g C) and a stronger sink for CO2 than previously demonstrated by other studies.