National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1996

Examining a coupled climate model using CFC-11 as an ocean tracer

Dixon, K.W., J.L. Bullister, R.H. Gammon, and R.J. Stouffer

Geophys. Res. Lett., 23(15), 1957–1960, doi: 10.1029/96GL01470 (1996)

Anthropogenic CFC-11 dissolved in seawater is used to analyze ocean ventilation simulated in a global coupled air-sea model. Modeled CFC-11 distributions are compared to observations gathered on three Southern Hemisphere research cruises. The total amount of CFC-11 absorbed by the model's Southern Ocean is realistic, though some notable differences in the vertical structure exist. Observed and simulated CFC-11 distributions are qualitatively consistent with the coupled model's predictions that the ocean may delay greenhouse gas-induced warming of surface air temperatures at high southern latitudes. The sensitivity of model-predicted CFC-11 levels in the deep Southern Ocean to the choice of gas exchange parameterization suggests that quantitative assessments of model performance based upon simulated CFC-11 distributions can be limited by air-sea gas flux uncertainties in areas of rapid ocean ventilation. Such sensitivities can complicate the quantitative aspects of CFC-11 comparisons between models and observations, and between different models.

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