Biogeochemical modelling of dissolved oxygen in a changing ocean

Oliver Andrews, Erik Buitenhuis, Corinne Le Quéré, Parvadha Suntharalingam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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Secular decreases in dissolved oxygen concentration have been observed within the tropical oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) and at mid- to high latitudes over the last approximately 50 years. Earth system model projections indicate that a reduction in the oxygen inventory of the global ocean, termed ocean deoxygenation, is a likely consequence of on-going anthropogenic warming. Current models are, however, unable to consistently reproduce the observed trends and variability of recent decades, particularly within the established tropical OMZs. Here, we conduct a series of targeted hindcast model simulations using a state-of-the-art global ocean biogeochemistry model in order to explore and review biases in model distributions of oceanic oxygen. We show that the largest magnitude of uncertainty is entrained into ocean oxygen response patterns due to model parametrization of pCO2-sensitive C : N ratios in carbon fixation and imposed atmospheric forcing data. Inclusion of a pCO2-sensitive C : N ratio drives historical oxygen depletion within the ocean interior due to increased organic carbon export and subsequent remineralization. Atmospheric forcing is shown to influence simulated interannual variability in ocean oxygen, particularly due to differences in imposed variability of wind stress and heat fluxes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160328
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2102
Early online date7 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2017


  • ocean deoxygenation
  • biogeochemical modelling
  • Climate Change


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