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Free Content Upwelling rates for the equatorial Pacific Ocean derived from the bomb 14C distribution

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A north-south cross section of bomb-produced radiocarbon (14C) in the upper 1000 m of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean (CEP) was measured in April, 1979 during Leg 3 of the NORPAX shuttle experiment. The 14C shows an equatorial mixed layer depletion of ∼40‰ compared to subtropical surface waters. Upwelling of deeper, 14C depleted water maintains this minimum. Two subsurface tongues of high 14C water, found north and south of the equator, are associated with high salinity water and probably result from exchange with subtropical surface water. The continued increase in mixed layer 14C levels in the CEP (up to 1979) indicates the importance of 14C input from these subsurface 14C maxima. Equatorward meridional advection resulting from geostrophic flow is the predominant supply of water upwelling at the equator and controls the 14C distribution in the CEP. The results of multi-layer mixing model calculations indicate an upwelling transport rate of 47 Sverdrups (5S–4N) and a maximum depth of upwelling of 225 m (0 = 26.5). These equatorial circulation characteristics explain the 14C, ΣCO2, oxygen, salinity and tritium distributions measured during Leg 3. The time history of mixed layer bomb 14C concentrations in the CEP indicate an exchange time of 4–6 years between the subtropical and equatorial surface oceans.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1983

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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