Southern Ocean ventilation inferred from seasonal cycles of atmospheric N<sub>2</sub>O and O<sub>2</sub>/N<sub>2</sub> at Cape Grim, Tasmania

Nevison, CD, Keeling RF, Weiss RF, Popp BN, Jin X, Fraser PJ, Porter LW, Hess PG.  2005.  Southern Ocean ventilation inferred from seasonal cycles of atmospheric N2O and O2/N2 at Cape Grim, Tasmania. Tellus Series B-Chemical and Physical Meteorology. 57:218-229.

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air-sea flux, ar/n-2 ratio, co2, emissions, gas-exchange, global carbon-cycle, nitrous-oxide, oxygen measurements, pacific, water


The seasonal cycle of atmospheric N(2)O is derived from a 10-yr observational record at Cape Grim, Tasmania (41 degrees S, 145 degrees E). After correcting for thermal and stratospheric influences, the observed atmospheric seasonal cycle is consistent with the seasonal outgassing of microbially produced N(2)O from the Southern Ocean, as predicted by an ocean biogeochemistry model coupled to an atmospheric transport model (ATM). The model-observation comparison suggests a Southern Ocean N(2)O source of similar to 0.9 Tg N yr(-1) and is the first study to reproduce observed atmospheric seasonal cycles in N(2)O using specified surface sources in forward ATM runs. However, these results are sensitive to the thermal and stratospheric corrections applied to the atmospheric N(2)O data. The correlation in subsurface waters between apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) and N(2)O production (approximated as the concentration in excess of atmospheric equilibrium Delta N(2)O) is exploited to infer the atmospheric seasonal cycle in O(2)/N(2) due to ventilation of O(2)-depleted subsurface waters. Subtracting this cycle from the observed, thermally corrected seasonal cycle in atmospheric O(2)/N(2) allows the residual O(2)/N(2) signal from surface net community production to be inferred. Because N(2)O is only produced in subsurface ocean waters, where it is correlated to O(2) consumption, atmospheric N(2)O observations provide a methodology for distinguishing the surface production and subsurface ventilation signals in atmospheric O(2)/N(2), which have previously been inseparable.