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Free Content Renewal time and transport of unventilated Central Intermediate Water of the Weddell Sea derived from biogeochemical properties

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We have investigated the intermediate water mass of the central Weddell Gyre using TCO2 and oxygen data of FS Polarstern cruises in 1992, 1996 and 1998. This water mass, designated as Central Intermediate Water (CIW), is enriched in CO2 and depleted in O2 relative to its source water due to biological degradation. CO2 enrichment and O2 depletion were quantified by calculating the difference between the concentrations in the CIW and those in the more southern source water, the Circumpolar Deep Water, which derives from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Inventories of enrichment and depletion were determined over the whole depth range of CIW, i.e. about 200 - 800 m. The O2 depletion inventory was greater than that of TCO2 enrichment which is in line with a biological origin of the signal. Spatial and interannual variation appeared to be small. Because subsurface remineralization in the central Weddell Gyre is largely restricted to the CIW, the export production estimate from previous work has been applied to compute the renewal time of CIW from these inventories. A renewal time of only three years was found. TCO2 - and O2 - based computations were consistent, the former showing larger variation, though. From renewal time and volume of the CIW, a transport velocity (renewal rate) of 6 - 7 Sv was obtained. Of this, about 1 Sv is upwelled into the surface layer. The remaining 5 - 6 Sv CIW must be exported to the north, which is opposite to previous views. Results of water mass age and transport rate have thus been obtained using a method based on biogeochemical parameters. As the CIW cannot be identified by temperature and salinity, nor with transient tracers because it is hardly ventilated, this is the only way to obtain such results. As part of the CIW export, a large amount of remineralized CO2 enters the abyssal oceans where it is sequestered for long periods of time. The CIW is a principal and highly efficient player in the biological pump mechanism of the Southern Ocean.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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