26 May 2021

26 May 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Description of a global marine particulate organic carbon-13 isotope data set

Maria-Theresia Verwega1,2, Christopher J. Somes1, Markus Schartau1, Robyn E. Tuerena3, Anne Lorrain4, Andreas Oschlies1, and Thomas Slawig2 Maria-Theresia Verwega et al.
  • 1GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
  • 2Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • 3Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage, Oban PA37 1QA
  • 4Univ Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, LEMAR, F-29280 Plouzané, France

Abstract. Marine particulate organic carbon-13 stable isotope ratios (δ13CPOC) provide insights in understanding carbon cycling through the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere. They have been used to trace the input of anthropogenic carbon in the marine ecosystem due to the distinct isotopically light signature of anthropogenic emissions. However, δ13CPOC is also significantly altered during photosynthesis by phytoplankton, which complicates its interpretation. For such purposes, robust spatio-temporal coverage of δ13CP OC observations is essential. We collected all such available data sets, merged and homogenized them to provide the largest available marine δ13CPOC data set (Verwega et al., 2021). The data set consists of 4732 data points covering all major ocean basins beginning in the 1960s. We describe the compiled raw data, compare different observational methods, and provide key insights in the temporal and spatial distribution that is consistent with previously observed patterns. The main different sample collection methods (bottle, intake, net, trap) are generally consistent with each other when comparing within regions. An analysis of 1990s mean δ13CP OC values in an meridional section accross the Atlantic Ocean shows relatively high values (≥ −22 ‰) in the low latitudes (< 30°) trending towards lower values in the Arctic Ocean (∼ −24 ‰) and Southern Ocean (≤ −28 ‰). The temporal trend since the 1960s shows a decrease of mean δ13CPOC by more than 3 ‰ in all basins except for the Southern Ocean which shows a weaker trend but contains relatively poor multi-decadal coverage.

Maria-Theresia Verwega et al.

Status: open (until 21 Jul 2021)

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Maria-Theresia Verwega et al.

Data sets

A global marine particulate organic carbon-13 isotope data product Verwega, M.-T., Somes, C. J., Tuerena, R. E., and Lorrain, A.

Maria-Theresia Verwega et al.


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Short summary
This work describes a ready-to-use collection of particulate organic carbon stable isotope ratio data sets. It covers the 1960s to 2010s, all main oceans, provides meta-information and gridded data. Best coverage exists in Atlantic, Indian and Southern Ocean surface waters during the 1990s. It indicates no major difference between methods, shows decreasing values towards high latitudes, with lowest in the Southern Ocean, and a long-term decline in all regions but the Southern Ocean.