Ventilation of the Arctic Ocean: Mean ages and inventories of anthropogenic CO2 and CFC-11

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Abstract

[1] The Arctic Ocean constitutes a large body of water that is still relatively poorly surveyed because of logistical difficulties, although the importance of the Arctic Ocean for global circulation and climate is widely recognized. For instance, the concentration and inventory of anthropogenic CO2 (Cant) in the Arctic Ocean are not properly known despite its relatively large volume of well-ventilated waters. In this work, we have synthesized available transient tracer measurements (e.g., CFCs and SF6) made during more than two decades by the authors. The tracer data are used to estimate the ventilation of the Arctic Ocean, to infer deep-water pathways, and to estimate the Arctic Ocean inventory of Cant. For these calculations, we used the transit time distribution (TTD) concept that makes tracer measurements collected over several decades comparable with each other. The bottom water in the Arctic Ocean has CFC values close to the detection limit, with somewhat higher values in the Eurasian Basin. The ventilation time for the intermediate water column is shorter in the Eurasian Basin (∼200 years) than in the Canadian Basin (∼300 years). We calculate the Arctic Ocean Cant inventory range to be 2.5 to 3.3 Pg-C, normalized to 2005, i.e., ∼2% of the global ocean Cant inventory despite being composed of only ∼1% of the global ocean volume. In a similar fashion, we use the TTD field to calculate the Arctic Ocean inventory of CFC-11 to be 26.2 ± 2.6 × 106 moles for year 1994, which is ∼5% of the global ocean CFC-11 inventory.

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