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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Oct 2018

Research article | 02 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Ocean Phosphorus Inventory and Ocean Deoxygenation: Large Uncertainties in Future Projections on Millennial Timescales

Tronje P. Kemena, Andreas Oschlies, Wolfgang Koeve, Klaus Wallmann, Angela Landolfi, and Andrew W. Dale Tronje P. Kemena et al.
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105, Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Previous studies have suggested that weathering and benthic phosphorus (P) fluxes, triggered by climate warming, can increase the oceanic P inventory on millennial time scales, promoting ocean productivity and deoxygenation. In this study, we assessed the major uncertainties in projected P inventories and their imprint on ocean deoxygenation using an Earth system model of intermediate complexity for a business-as-usual carbon dioxide (CO2) emission scenario until year 2300 and subsequent linear decline to zero emissions until year 3000.

Model results suggest a large spread in the simulated oceanic P inventory due to uncertainties in (1) assumptions for weathering parameters, (2) the representation of bathymetry on slopes and shelves in the model bathymetry, (3) the parametrization of benthic P fluxes and (4) the representation of sediment P inventories. Our best estimate for changes in the global ocean P inventory by the year 5000 caused by global warming amounts to +30 % compared to pre-industrial levels. Weathering, benthic and anthropogenic fluxes of P contributed +25 %, +3 % and +2 % respectively. The total range of oceanic P inventory changes across all model simulations varied between +2 % and +60 %. Suboxic volumes were up to 5 times larger than in a model simulation with a constant oceanic P inventory. Considerably large amounts of the additional P left the ocean surface unused by phytoplankton via physical transport processes as preformed P. Nitrogen fixation was not able to adjust the oceanic nitrogen inventory to the increasing P levels or to compensate for the nitrogen loss due to increased denitrification. This is in contrast to palaeo reconstructions of large-scale deoxygenation events.

We suggest that uncertainties in P weathering, nitrogen fixation and benthic P feedbacks need to be reduced to achieve more reliable projections of oceanic deoxygenation on millennial timescales.

Tronje P. Kemena et al.
Interactive discussion
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Tronje P. Kemena et al.
Tronje P. Kemena et al.
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