About Ocean Tracer Research
Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) Tracers
The PMEL Ocean Tracer Program has been using dissolved CFCs as time-dependent or 'transient' tracers of ocean circulation and mixing processes. The concentrations of CFCs, along with a number of other anthropogenic compounds (e.g.CO2), have increased significantly in the global atmosphere during the past century. CFC concentrations in the surface ocean can be modeled as functions of location and time. Studies of the entry of CFCs from the atmosphere into the surface ocean, and the subsequent transport of these compounds into the ocean interior provides a unique description of the time-integrated circulation of the ocean on decadal time scales.