Only about half of all the CO_2 that has been produced by the burning of fossil fuels now remains in the atmosphere. The CO_2 "missing" from the atmosphere is the subject of an important debate. It was thought that the great majority of the missing CO_2 has invaded the ocean, for this system naturally acts as a giant chemical regulator of the atmosphere. Although it is clear that ocean processes have a major role in the regulation of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere through air-sea exchange processes, recent studies of the oceanic carbon cycle and air-sea interaction indicate that oceanic carbon is in a quasi-steady state via the system of biological and physical processes in the ocean interior. It is difficult to determine whether the ocean has the capacity to take up the increasing air-born CO_2 released by human activities over the past five or six decades. To understand this enigma, we need a better understanding of the natural variability of the oceanic carbon cycle.
In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Lavigne and Gattuso, 2011) was used to compute a complete and consistent set of carbonate system variables, as described by Nisumaa et al. (2010). In this dataset the original values were archived in addition with the recalculated parameters (see related PI).