[en] Data from two Voluntary Observing Ship (VOS) (2005-2007) augmented with data subsets from ten cruises (1987-2005) were used to investigate the spatiotemporal variations of the CO2 fugacity in seawater (fCO(2)(sw)) in the North Sea at seasonal and inter-annual time scales. The observed seasonal fCO(2)(sw) variations were related to variations in sea surface temperature (SST), biology plus mixing, and air-sea CO2 exchange. Over the study period, the seasonal amplitude in fCO(2)(sw) induced by SST changes was 0.4-0.75 times those resulting from variations in biology plus mixing. Along a meridional transect, fCO(2)(sw) normally decreased northwards (-12 mu atm per degree latitude), but the gradient disappeared/reversed during spring as a consequence of an enhanced seasonal amplitude of fCO(2)(sw) in southern parts of the North Sea. Along a zonal transect, a weak gradient (-0.8 mu atm per degree longitude) was observed in the annual mean fCO(2)(sw). Annually and averaged over the study area, surface waters of the North Sea were CO2 undersaturated and, thus, a sink of atmospheric CO2. However, during summer, surface waters in the region 55.5-54.5 degrees N were CO2 supersaturated and, hence, a source for atmospheric CO2. Comparison of fCO(2)(sw) data acquired within two 1 degrees x1 degrees regions in the northern and southern North Sea during different years (1987, 2001, 2002, and 2005-2007) revealed large interannual variations, especially during spring and summer when year-to-year fCO(2)(sw) differences (approximate to 160-200 mu atm) approached seasonal changes (approximate to 200-250 mu atm). The springtime variations resulted from changes in magnitude and timing of the phytoplankton bloom, whereas changes in SST, wind speed and total alkalinity may have contributed to the summertime interannual fCO(2)(sw) differences. The lowest interannual variation (10-50 mu atm) was observed during fall and early winter. Comparison with data reported in October 1967 suggests that the fCO(2)(sw) growth rate in the central North Sea was similar to that in the atmosphere.