Time series measurements of transient tracers and tracer-derived transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current between the Labrador Sea and the subtropical Atlantic Ocean at Line W

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Smith, John N.
Smethie, William M.
Yashayaev, Igor
Curry, Ruth G.
Azetsu-Scott, Kumiko
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Boundary current
North Atlantic
Time series measurements of the nuclear fuel reprocessing tracer 129I and the gas ventilation tracer CFC-11 were undertaken on the AR7W section in the Labrador Sea (1997–2014) and on Line W (2004–2014), located over the US continental slope off Cape Cod, to determine advection and mixing time scales for the transport of Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW) within the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC). Tracer measurements were also conducted in 2010 over the continental rise southeast of Bermuda to intercept the equatorward flow of DSOW by interior pathways. The Labrador Sea tracer and hydrographic time series data were used as input functions in a boundary current model that employs transit time distributions to simulate the effects of mixing and advection on downstream tracer distributions. Model simulations of tracer levels in the boundary current core and adjacent interior (shoulder) region with which mixing occurs were compared with the Line W time series measurements to determine boundary current model parameters. These results indicate that DSOW is transported from the Labrador Sea to Line W via the DWBC on a time scale of 5–6 years corresponding to a mean flow velocity of 2.7 cm/s while mixing between the core and interior regions occurs with a time constant of 2.6 years. A tracer section over the southern flank of the Bermuda rise indicates that the flow of DSOW that separated from the DWBC had undergone transport through interior pathways on a time scale of 9 years with a mixing time constant of 4 years.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121 (2016): 8115–8138, doi:10.1002/2016JC011759.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 121 (2016): 8115–8138
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