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The changing carbon cycle of the coastal ocean

Abstract

The carbon cycle of the coastal ocean is a dynamic component of the global carbon budget. But the diverse sources and sinks of carbon and their complex interactions in these waters remain poorly understood. Here we discuss the sources, exchanges and fates of carbon in the coastal ocean and how anthropogenic activities have altered the carbon cycle. Recent evidence suggests that the coastal ocean may have become a net sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide during post-industrial times. Continued human pressures in coastal zones will probably have an important impact on the future evolution of the coastal ocean's carbon budget.

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Figure 1: Processes that affect organic and inorganic carbon cycling and fluxes in the major coastal ocean subsystems.
Figure 2: Organic and inorganic carbon fluxes in the estuarine, tidal wetland and continental shelf subsystems of the coastal ocean.
Figure 3: Air–surface water CO2 exchange fluxes of different aquatic systems.
Figure 4: p CO 2 levels, net ecosystem production and organic and inorganic carbon fluxes in pre-industrial and current continental shelves.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation's Chemical and Biological Oceanography, Integrated Carbon Cycle Research, Arctic Natural Sciences, Long-Term Ecological Research, and Ecosystem Ecology programs; NASA Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science program NOAA; Georgia Sea Grant; the European Union's Seventh Framework Program project GEOCARBON; and the government of the Brussels-Capital Region. We acknowledge our late friend and colleague Y. Wang, whose contributions to coastal carbon cycle research and CO2 measurement technology have significantly advanced the field. We also thank A. Grottoli for comments and discussion on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Bauer, J., Cai, WJ., Raymond, P. et al. The changing carbon cycle of the coastal ocean. Nature 504, 61–70 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12857

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