A possible important CO2 sink by the global water cycle


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Publication Date

January 2008


The locations, magnitudes, variations and mechanisms responsible for the global CO2 sink are uncertain and under debate. Here, we show, based on theoretical calculations and evidences from field monitoring results, that there is a possible important CO2 sink (as DIC-dissolved inorganic carbon) by the global water cycle. The sink constitutes up to 0.8013 Pg C/a (or 10.1% of the total anthropogenic CO2 emission, or 28.6% of the missing CO2 sink), and is formed by the CO2 absorption of water and subsequent enhanced consumption by carbonate dissolution and aquatic plant photosynthesis. Of the sink, 0.5188 Pg C/a goes to sea via precipitation over sea (0.2748 Pg C/a) and continental rivers (0.244 Pg C/a), 0.158 Pg C/a is released to the atmosphere again, and 0.1245 Pg C/a is stored in the continental aquatic ecosystem. Therefore, the net sink could be 0.6433 Pg C/a. This sink may increase with the global-warming-intensified global water cycle, the increase in CO2 and carbonate dust in atmosphere, and reforestation/afforestation, the latter increasing soil CO2, and thus the concentration of the DIC in water.


CO2 Sink, Global Water Cycle, CO2 Absorption, Carbonate Dissolution, Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, Aquatic Plant Photosynthesis

Document Type



Chinese Science Bulletin, Vol. 53, no. 3 (2008).