Seasonal variations in the Amazon plume-related atmospheric carbon sink
The Amazon River plume is a highly seasonal feature that can reach more than 3000 km across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, and cover ∼2 million km². Ship observations show that its seasonal presence significantly reduces sea surface salinity and inorganic carbon. In the western tropical North Atlantic during April–May 2003, plume-influenced stations exhibited surface DIC concentrations lowered by as much as 563 μmol C kg⁻¹ (∼28%) and pCO₂ as low as 201 μatm. We combine our data with other data sets to understand the annual uptake and seasonal variability of the plume-related CO₂ sink. Using flux estimates from all seasons with monthly plume areas determined by satellite, we calculate the annual carbon uptake by the outer plume alone (28 < S < 35) to be 15 ± 6 TgC yr⁻¹. Diazotroph-supported net community production enhanced the air-sea CO₂ disequilibrium by 100x and reversed the typical CO₂ outgassing from the tropical North Atlantic. The carbon sink in the Amazon plume depends on climate-sensitive conditions that control river hydrology, CO₂ solubility, and gas exchange.
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- Global Biogeochemical Cycles