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Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 609-626, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-609-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
 
27 Mar 2018
The Ocean Carbon States Database: a proof-of-concept application of cluster analysis in the ocean carbon cycle
Rebecca Latto1,2 and Anastasia Romanou1,2 1Applied Physics and Applied Math, Columbia University, New York, USA
2NASA-GISS, New York, NY, USA
Abstract. In this paper, we present a database of the basic regimes of the carbon cycle in the ocean, the ocean carbon states, as obtained using a data mining/pattern recognition technique in observation-based as well as model data. The goal of this study is to establish a new data analysis methodology, test it and assess its utility in providing more insights into the regional and temporal variability of the marine carbon cycle. This is important as advanced data mining techniques are becoming widely used in climate and Earth sciences and in particular in studies of the global carbon cycle, where the interaction of physical and biogeochemical drivers confounds our ability to accurately describe, understand, and predict CO2 concentrations and their changes in the major planetary carbon reservoirs. In this proof-of-concept study, we focus on using well-understood data that are based on observations, as well as model results from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) climate model. Our analysis shows that ocean carbon states are associated with the subtropical–subpolar gyre during the colder months of the year and the tropics during the warmer season in the North Atlantic basin. Conversely, in the Southern Ocean, the ocean carbon states can be associated with the subtropical and Antarctic convergence zones in the warmer season and the coastal Antarctic divergence zone in the colder season. With respect to model evaluation, we find that the GISS model reproduces the cold and warm season regimes more skillfully in the North Atlantic than in the Southern Ocean and matches the observed seasonality better than the spatial distribution of the regimes. Finally, the ocean carbon states provide useful information in the model error attribution. Model air–sea CO2 flux biases in the North Atlantic stem from wind speed and salinity biases in the subpolar region and nutrient and wind speed biases in the subtropics and tropics. Nutrient biases are shown to be most important in the Southern Ocean flux bias. All data and analysis scripts are available at https://data.giss.nasa.gov/oceans/carbonstates/ (DOI: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.996891).
Citation: Latto, R. and Romanou, A.: The Ocean Carbon States Database: a proof-of-concept application of cluster analysis in the ocean carbon cycle, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 10, 609-626, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-609-2018, 2018.
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It is crucial to study the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle in order to understand and predict the increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is regarded as one of the main drivers of global warming. By analyzing the relationship between surface ocean CO2 and temperature, we seek to understand the pathways by which the ocean controls carbon fluctuations in the atmosphere. We employ cluster analysis as a tool for revealing patterns in where and when this relationship occurs.
It is crucial to study the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle in order to understand and...
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