Quantifying seasonal air-sea gas exchange processes using noble gas time-series: A design experiment
A multi-year time-series of measurements of five noble gases (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe) at a subtropical ocean location may allow quantification of air-sea gas exchange parameters with tighter constraints than is currently available by other methods. We have demonstrated this using a one-dimensional upper ocean model forced by 6-hourly NCEP reanalysis winds and heat flux for the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. We performed ensemble model runs to characterize the response of the modeled noble gas saturation anomalies to a range of air-sea gas exchange parameters. We then used inverse calculations to quantify the sensitivity of the parameters to hypothetical observations. These calculations show that with currently achievable measurement accuracies, noble gas concentrations in the Sargasso Sea could be used to constrain the magnitude of equilibrium gas exchange to ±11%, the magnitude of the total air injection flux to ±14%, and the magnitude of net photosynthetic oxygen production to ±1.5 mol O2 m−2 y−1. Additionally, we can use noble gases to quantify the relative contributions of bubbles that are partially dissolved to bubbles that are completely dissolved. These constraints are based on idealized assumptions and may not fully account for some of the uncertainties in the meteorological data, in lateral transport processes, and in the solubilities of the noble gases. As a limited demonstration, we applied this approach to a time series of He, Ne, Ar, and O2 measurements from the Sargasso Sea from 1985 to 1988 (data from Spitzer, 1989). Due to the limited number of gases measured and the lower accuracy of those measurements, the constraints in this example application are weaker than could be achieved with current capabilities.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 March 2006
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