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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 09 Aug 2018

Review article | 09 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Autonomous seawater pCO2 and pH time series from 40 surface buoys and the emergence of anthropogenic trends

Adrienne J. Sutton1, Richard A. Feely1, Stacy Maenner-Jones1, Sylvia Musielwicz1,2, John Osborne1,2, Colin Dietrich1,2, Natalie Monacci3, Jessica Cross1, Randy Bott1, and Alex Kozyr4 Adrienne J. Sutton et al.
  • 1Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • 2Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • 3Ocean Acidification Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
  • 4National Centers for Environmental Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Abstract. Ship-based time series, some now approaching over three decades long, are critical climate records that have dramatically improved our ability to characterize natural and anthropogenic drivers of ocean CO2 uptake and biogeochemical processes. Advancements in autonomous ocean carbon observing technology over the last two decades have led to the expansion of fixed time series stations with the added capability of characterizing sub-seasonal variability. Here we present a data product of 40 autonomous moored surface ocean pCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) and pH time series established between 2004 and 2013. These time series characterize a wide range of seawater pCO2 and pH conditions in different oceanic (17 sites) and coastal (12 sites) regimes including coral reefs (11 sites). With well-constrained daily to interannual variability and an estimate of decadal variability, these data suggest the length of time series necessary to detect an anthropogenic trend in seawater pCO2 and pH varies from 8 to 15 years at the open ocean sites, 16 to 41 years at the coastal sites, and 9 to 22 years at the coral reef sites. Only two open ocean pCO2 time series, WHOTS in the subtropical North Pacific and Stratus in the South Pacific gyre, are longer than the estimated time of emergence, and deseasoned monthly means show anthropogenic trends of 1.9±0.3 µatm yr−1 and 1.6±0.3 µatm yr−1, respectively. In the future, it is possible that updates to this product will allow for estimating anthropogenic trends at more sites; however, the product currently provides a valuable tool in an accessible format for evaluating climatology and natural variability of surface ocean carbonate chemistry in a variety of regions. Data are available at and

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Adrienne J. Sutton et al.
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Autonomous seawater partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) and pH time series from 40 surface buoys between 2004 and 2017 (NCEI Accession 0173932) A. J. Sutton, R. A. Feely, S. Maenner-Jones, S. Musielwicz, J. Osborne, C. Dietrich, N. Monacci, J. Cross, R. Bott, and A. Kozyr

Adrienne J. Sutton et al.
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Short summary
Long-term observations are critical records for distinguishing natural cycles from climate change. We present a data set of 40 surface ocean CO2 and pH time series that suggest the time length necessary to detect a trend in seawater CO2 due to uptake of atmospheric CO2 varies from 8 years in the least variable ocean regions to 41 years in the most variable coastal regions. This data set provides a tool to evaluate natural cycles of ocean CO2, with long-term trends emerging as records lengthen.
Long-term observations are critical records for distinguishing natural cycles from climate...