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Methyl bromide: Ocean sources, ocean sinks, and climate sensitivity

Anbar, A. D. and Yung, Y. L. and Chavez, F. P. (1996) Methyl bromide: Ocean sources, ocean sinks, and climate sensitivity. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 10 (1). p. 1. ISSN 0886-6236. doi:10.1029/95GB02743.

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The oceans play an important role in the geochemical cycle of methyl bromide (CH_3Br), the major carrier of O_3-destroying bromine to the stratosphere. The quantity of CH_3Br produced annually in seawater is comparable to the amount entering the atmosphere each year from natural and anthropogenic sources. The production mechanism is unknown but may be biological. Most of this CH_3Br is consumed in situ by hydrolysis or reaction with chloride. The size of the fraction which escapes to the atmosphere is poorly constrained; measurements in seawater and the atmosphere have been used to justify both a large oceanic CH_3Br flux to the atmosphere and a small net ocean sink. Since the consumption reactions are extremely temperature-sensitive, small temperature variations have large effects on the CH_3Br concentration in seawater, and therefore on the exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean. The net CH_3Br flux is also sensitive to variations in the rate of CH_3Br production. We have quantified these effects using a simple steady state mass balance model. When CH_3Br production rates are linearly scaled with seawater chlorophyll content, this model reproduces the latitudinal variations in marine CH_3Br concentrations observed in the east Pacific Ocean by Singh et al. [1983] and by Lobert et al. [1995]. The apparent correlation of CH_3Br production with primary production explains the discrepancies between the two observational studies, strengthening recent suggestions that the open ocean is a small net sink for atmospheric CH_3Br, rather than a large net source. The Southern Ocean is implicated as a possible large net source of CH_3Br to the atmosphere. Since our model indicates that both the direction and magnitude of CH_3Br exchange between the atmosphere and ocean are extremely sensitive to temperature and marine productivity, and since the rate of CH_3Br production in the oceans is comparable to the rate at which this compound is introduced to the atmosphere, even small perturbations to temperature or productivity can modify atmospheric CH_3Br. Therefore atmospheric CH_3Br should be sensitive to climate conditions. Our modeling indicates that climate-induced CH_3Br variations can be larger than those resulting from small (±25%) changes in the anthropogenic source, assuming that this source comprises less than half of all inputs. Future measurements of marine CH_3Br, temperature, and primary production should be combined with such models to determine the relationship between marine biological activity and CH_3Br production. Better understanding of the biological term is especially important to assess the importance of non anthropogenic sources to stratospheric ozone loss and the sensitivity of these sources to global climate change.

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Yung, Y. L.0000-0002-4263-2562
Additional Information:© 1996 American Geophysical Union. Received November1 6, 1994; revised August 31, 1995; accepted September 5, 1995. The authors are grateful to J. Butler and J. Lobeft for providing CH_(3)Br and temperature data in electronic format, and for many helpful comments. Thanks to G. Feldman and S. Pazen for providing CZCS data and Pacific oceanographic data, respectively, in electronic format. D. Halpern's suggestions in the early stages of this project are appreciated, as are those of A. Meinrat and an anonymous reviewer. This research was supported by NASA grant NAGW-413 and NOAA grant NA46GP0069. Division of Geological Sciences, California Institute of Technology, contribution 5539.
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences5539
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Official Citation:Anbar, A. D., Y. L. Yung, and F. P. Chavez (1996), Methyl bromide: Ocean sources, ocean sinks, and climate sensitivity, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 10(1), 175–190, doi:10.1029/95GB02743.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:48670
Deposited On:19 Aug 2014 18:10
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 18:34

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