14C-age tracers in global ocean circulation models

Koeve, Wolfgang, Wagner, Hannes, Kähler, Paul and Oschlies, Andreas (2015) 14C-age tracers in global ocean circulation models Geoscientific Model Development, 8 . pp. 2079-2094. DOI 10.5194/gmd-8-2079-2015.

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Abstract

The natural abundance of 14C in total CO2 dissolved in seawater is a property applied to evaluate the water age structure and circulation in the ocean and in ocean models. In this study we use three different representations of the global ocean circulation augmented with a suite of idealised tracers to study the potential and limitations of using natural 14C to determine water age, the time elapsed since a body of water had contact with the atmosphere. We find that, globally, bulk 14C-age is dominated by two equally important components, one associated with aging, i.e. the time component of circulation and one associated with a "preformed 14C-age". This latter quantity exists because of the slow and incomplete atmosphere/ocean equilibration of 14C in particular in high latitudes where many water masses form. The relative contribution of the preformed component to bulk 14C-age varies regionally within a given model, but also between models. Regional variability, e.g. in the Atlantic Ocean is associated with the mixing of waters with very different end members of preformed 14C-age. In the Atlantic, variations in the preformed component over space and time mask the circulation component to an extent that its patterns are not detectable from bulk 14C-age alone. Between models the variability of age can also be considerable (factor of 2), related to the combinations of physical model parameters, which influence circulation dynamics, and gas exchange in the models. The preformed component was found to be very sensitive to gas exchange and moderately sensitive to ice cover. In our model evaluation exercise, the choice of the gas exchange constant from within the current range of uncertainty had such a strong influence on preformed and bulk 14C-age that if model evaluation would be based on bulk 14C-age it could easily impair the evaluation and tuning of a models circulation on global and regional scales. Based on the results of this study, we propose that considering preformed 14C-age is critical for a correct assessment of circulation in ocean models.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/264879
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > A2
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BM Biogeochemical Modeling
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R05
OceanRep > SFB 754 > A4
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.5194/gmd-8-2079-2015
ISSN: 1991-959X
Related URLs:
Projects: BIOACID, CARBOCHANGE, SFB754
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2014 07:36
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2017 10:58
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/25865

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