TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 53 (No. 1), pp. 9-17, 1997

A Preliminary Study of Carbon System in the East China Sea

Shizuo Tsunogai, Shuichi Watanabe, Junya Nakamura, Tsuneo Ono and Tetsuro Sato

Laboratory of Marine and Atmospheric Geochemistry, Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060, Japan

(Received 13 April 1995; in revised form 7 May 1996; accepted 7 May 1996)

Abstract: In the central part of the East China Sea, the activity of CO2 in the surface water and total carbonate, pH and alkalinity in the water column were determined in winter and autumn of 1993. The activity of CO2 in the continental shelf water was about 50 ppm lower than that of surface air. This decrease corresponds to the absorption of about 40 gC/m2/yr of atmospheric CO2 in the coastal zone or 1 GtC/yr in the global continental shelf, if this rate is applicable to entire coastal seas. The normalized total carbonate contents were higher in the water near the coast and near the bottom. This increase toward the bottom may be due to the organic matter deposited on the bottom. This conclusion is supported by the distribution of pH. The normalized alkalinity distribution also showed higher values in the near-coast water, but in the surface water, indicating the supply of bicarbonate from river water. The residence time of the East China Sea water, including the Yellow Sea water, has been calculated to be about 0.8 yr from the excess alkalinity and the alkalinity input. Using this residence time and the excess carbonate, we can estimate that the amount of dissolved carbonate transported from the coastal zone to the oceanic basin is about 70 gC/m2/yr or 2 GtC/yr/area-of-global-continental-shelf. This also means that the rivers transport carbon to the oceans at a rate of 30 gC/m2/yr of the coastal sea or 0.8 GtC/yr/area-of-global shelf, the carbon consisting of dissolved inorganic carbonate and terrestrial organic carbon decomposed on the continental shelf.

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