Rates of North Atlantic Deep Water formation calculated from chlorofluorocarbon inventories

William M. Smethie, Rana A. Fine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) inventories provide an independent method for calculating the rate of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation. From data collected between 1986 and 1992, the CFC-11 inventories for the major components of NADW are: 4.2 million moles for Upper Labrador Sea Water (ULSW), 14.7 million moles for Classical Labrador Sea Water (CLSW), 5.0 million moles for Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water (ISOW), and 5.9 million moles for Denmark Strait Overflow Water (DSOW). The inventories directly reflect the input of newly formed water into the deep Atlantic Ocean from the Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian Seas and from the surface of the subpolar North Atlantic during the time of the CFC-11 transient. Since about 90% of CFC-11 in the ocean as of 1990 entered the ocean between 1970 and 1990, the formation rates estimated by this method represent an average over this time period. Formation rates based on best estimates of source water CFC-11 saturations are: 2.2 Sv for ULSW, 7.4 Sv for CLSW, 5.2 Sv for ISOW (2.4 Sv pure ISOW, 1.8 Sv entrained CLSW, and 1.0 Sv entrained northeast Atlantic water) and 2.4 Sv for DSOW. To our knowledge, this is the first calculation for the rate of ULSW formation. The formation rate of CLSW was calculated for an assumed variable formation rate scaled to the thickness of CLSW in the central Labrador Sea with a 10: 1 ratio of high to low rates. The best estimate of these rates are 12.5 and 1.3 Sv, which average to 7.4 Sv for the 1970-1990 time period. The average formation rate for the sum of CLSW, ISOW and DSOW is 15.0 Sv, which is similar to (within our error) previous estimates (which do not include ULSW) using other techniques. Including ULSW, the total NADW formation rate is about 17.2 Sv. Although ULSW has not been considered as part of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation in the past, it is clearly an important component that is exported out of the North Atlantic with other NADW components. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-215
Number of pages27
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

Keywords

  • CFC inventories
  • North Atlantic Deep Water
  • Water mass formation rates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science

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