The equatorial Pacific Ocean is one of the most important yet highly variable oceanic source areas for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Here, we used the partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2), measured in surface waters from 1979 through early 2001, to examine the effect on the equatorial Pacific CO2 chemistry of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation phase shift, which occurred around 1988 to 1992. During the decade before the shift, the surface water PCO2 (corrected for temperature changes and atmospheric CO2 uptake) in the central and western equatorial Pacific decreased at a mean rate of about -20 muatm per decade, whereas after the shift, it increased at about +15 muatm per decade. These changes altered the CO2 sink and source flux of the equatorial Pacific significantly.
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