Articles | Volume 18, issue 6
Research article
28 Mar 2018
Research article |  | 28 Mar 2018

Using eddy covariance to measure the dependence of air–sea CO2 exchange rate on friction velocity

Sebastian Landwehr, Scott D. Miller, Murray J. Smith, Thomas G. Bell, Eric S. Saltzman, and Brian Ward

Abstract. Parameterisation of the air–sea gas transfer velocity of CO2 and other trace gases under open-ocean conditions has been a focus of air–sea interaction research and is required for accurately determining ocean carbon uptake. Ships are the most widely used platform for air–sea flux measurements but the quality of the data can be compromised by airflow distortion and sensor cross-sensitivity effects. Recent improvements in the understanding of these effects have led to enhanced corrections to the shipboard eddy covariance (EC) measurements.

Here, we present a revised analysis of eddy covariance measurements of air–sea CO2 and momentum fluxes from the Southern Ocean Surface Ocean Aerosol Production (SOAP) study. We show that it is possible to significantly reduce the scatter in the EC data and achieve consistency between measurements taken on station and with the ship underway. The gas transfer velocities from the EC measurements correlate better with the EC friction velocity (u*) than with mean wind speeds derived from shipboard measurements corrected with an airflow distortion model. For the observed range of wind speeds (u10 N = 3–23 m s−1), the transfer velocities can be parameterised with a linear fit to u*. The SOAP data are compared to previous gas transfer parameterisations using u10 N computed from the EC friction velocity with the drag coefficient from the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) model version 3.5. The SOAP results are consistent with previous gas transfer studies, but at high wind speeds they do not support the sharp increase in gas transfer associated with bubble-mediated transfer predicted by physically based models.

Short summary
The ocean takes up about 25 % of emitted anthropogenic emitted carbon dioxide and thus plays a significant role in the regulation of climate. In order to accurately calculate this uptake, a quantity known as the air–sea gas transfer velocity needs to be determined. This is typically parameterised with mean wind speed, the most commonly used velocity scale for calculating air–sea transfer coefficients. In this article, we propose an alternative velocity scale known as the friction velocity.
Final-revised paper