Coastal Carbon Synthesis for the Continental Shelf of the North American Pacific Coast (NAPC)
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The West Coast represents the longest coastline in North America, stretching from Panama all the way northward to the Aleutians. Key advances in the carbon cycling of this margin have been made since the North American Continental Margins report (Hales et al., 2008), notably the convergence of models and observations on air-sea fluxes; more sophisticated coastal carbon cycle models; and increased observational coverage in space and time, allowing for more data synthesis and model-data comparison. The coast was divided up into sub-regions based on differences in oceanographic drivers of coastal carbon cycling. Those sub-regions include the Gulf of Alaska, the Central American Isthmus, and the California Current System (CCS), which is further subdivided into northern, central, and southern sectors. The carbon budget for the Pacific Coast of North America identifies the best-known fluxes as the air-sea exchange of CO2 and terrestrial inputs. The least constrained fluxes include respiration, cross-shelf exchange, and carbon metabolism in estuaries. Spatial trends were typically consistent among models and observations, but the magnitude of the fluxes varied widely. While more modeling and observational studies exist than are presented here, relevant fluxes for the carbon budget were often unreported. In the long-term, investments in research and monitoring will be needed to better constrain the fluxes of many of the highly variable regions described in this study. In addition to the budget, this synthesis identifies gaps and priorities for future research.