Two centuries of limited variability in subtropical North Atlantic thermocline ventilation
Goodkin, Nathalie F.
Druffel, Ellen R. M.
Hughen, Konrad A.
Doney, Scott C.
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Ventilation and mixing of oceanic gyres is important to ocean-atmosphere heat and gas transfer, and to mid-latitude nutrient supply. The rates of mode water formation are believed to impact climate and carbon exchange between the surface and mid-depth water over decadal periods. Here, a record of 14C/12C (1780–1940), which is a proxy for vertical ocean mixing, from an annually banded coral from Bermuda, shows limited inter-annual variability and a substantial Suess Effect (the decrease in 14C/12C since 1900). The Sargasso Sea mixing rates between the surface and thermocline varied minimally over the past two centuries, despite changes to mean-hemispheric climate, including the Little Ice Age and variability in the North Atlantic Oscillation. This result indicates that regional formation rates of sub-tropical mode water are stable over decades, and that anthropogenic carbon absorbed by the ocean does not return to the surface at a variable rate.
© The Author(s), 2012. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Nature Communications 3 (2012): 803, doi:10.1038/ncomms1811.
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