About Ocean Tracers
Figure (above): Chlorofluorocarbon-12 (CFC-12) concentrations, used as ocean tracers of circulation and mixing processes, measured along the North-South section line "A16" in the Atlantic Ocean. Click image to see full graphic.
The Ocean Tracer group makes CFC and SF6 measurements on Repeat Hydrography and other ocean research cruises to detect changes in water mass formation rates and to improve estimates of the uptake and storage of anthropogenic CO2 in the ocean on a global scale. Tracer studies can also improve estimates of the rates of important biogeochemical processes in the ocean, including oxygen utilization rates (OUR) and the production and consumption of trace gases in the ocean.
The Ocean Tracer group plans to extend tracer studies to include other important greenhouse gases (e.g., methane and nitrous oxide) that are not currently measured, and to use these data to help estimate the importance of the ocean in the global budget of these gases. The group also plans to increase interaction with modeling groups and to utilize these tracers to help evaluate global-scale ocean models. The group will collaborate with other nutrient-focused groups to look at the relationships between changes in CFCs and SF6 with changes in nutrients and dissolved oxygen in the ocean.