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Constraining a North Atlantic Ocean general circulation model with chlorofluorocarbon observations

Gray, S. L. and Haine, T. W. N. (2001) Constraining a North Atlantic Ocean general circulation model with chlorofluorocarbon observations. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 31 (5). pp. 1157-1181. ISSN 0022-3670

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/1520-0485(2001)031<1157:CANAOG>2.0.CO;2

Abstract/Summary

Measurements of anthropogenic tracers such as chlorofluorocarbons and tritium must be quantitatively combined with ocean general circulation models as a component of systematic model development. The authors have developed and tested an inverse method, using a Green's function, to constrain general circulation models with transient tracer data. Using this method chlorofluorocarbon-11 and -12 (CFC-11 and -12) observations are combined with a North Atlantic configuration of the Miami Isopycnic Coordinate Ocean Model with 4/3 degrees resolution. Systematic differences can be seen between the observed CFC concentrations and prior CFC fields simulated by the model. These differences are reduced by the inversion, which determines the optimal gas transfer across the air-sea interface, accounting for uncertainties in the tracer observations. After including the effects of unresolved variability in the CFC fields, the model is found to be inconsistent with the observations because the model/data misfit slightly exceeds the error estimates. By excluding observations in waters ventilated north of the Greenland-Scotland ridge (sigma (0) < 27.82 kg m(-3); shallower than about 2000 m), the fit is improved, indicating that the Nordic overflows are poorly represented in the model. Some systematic differences in the model/data residuals remain and are related, in part, to excessively deep model ventilation near Rockall and deficient ventilation in the main thermocline of the eastern subtropical gyre. Nevertheless, there do not appear to be gross errors in the basin-scale model circulation. Analysis of the CFC inventory using the constrained model suggests that the North Atlantic Ocean shallower than about 2000 m was near 20% saturated in the mid-1990s. Overall, this basin is a sink to 22% of the total atmosphere-to-ocean CFC-11 flux-twice the global average value. The average water mass formation rates over the CFC transient are 7.0 and 6.0 Sv (Sv = 10(6) m(3) s(-1)) for subtropical mode water and subpolar mode water, respectively.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:7649
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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