Iodine 129/CFC 11 transit times for Denmark Strait Overflow Water in the Labrador and Irminger Seas

Type Article
Date 2005-05
Language English
Author(s) Smith Jn1, Jones Ep1, Moran Sb2, Smethie Wm3, Kieser We4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Bedford Inst Oceanog, DFO, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2, Canada.
2 : Univ Rhode Isl, Grad Sch Oceanog, Narragansett, RI 02882 USA.
3 : Columbia Univ, Lamont Doherty Earth Observ, Palisades, NY 10964 USA.
4 : Univ Toronto, Isotrace Lab, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada.
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (0148-0227) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2005-05 , Vol. 110 , N. C05006 , P. 1-16
DOI 10.1029/2004JC002516
WOS© Times Cited 31
Keyword(s) 129I, Denmark Strait Overflow Water, transit time, Labrador and Irminger Seas
Abstract Iodine 129 discharged from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in France and the United Kingdom is transported into the Nordic Seas on timescales of 3 - 5 years. Tracer I-129 is subsequently injected into intermediate waters that overflow the sills between Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland and ventilate the North Atlantic Deep Waters ( NADW). During the early 1990s, discharges of I-129 increased by 600%, resulting in a large, well- resolved tracer " front'' whose passage through the Nordic Seas is presently being observed by a time series of I-129 measurements on the WOCE ( AR7W) section in the Labrador Sea. The highest I-129 levels were measured below depths of 3000 m in Denmark Strait Overflow Water ( DSOW). These levels increased by about 300% between 1997 and 2001 to values > 40 x 10(7) atoms/ L, indicating that the leading edge of the tracer " front'' from the early 1990s was being observed entering the NADW. Using a simple mixing/ advection model, I-129 and CFC 11 results were used to calculate transit times of 0.4 - 2.6 years for the flow of DSOW from formation regions in the Nordic Seas to the Labrador Sea. Measurements on samples collected in the Irminger Sea in 2001 gave transit times of 0.3 years for core DSOW immediately south of Denmark Strait and about 2 years for locations off the southern tip of Greenland. An increase in DSOW transit times observed in the Labrador Sea between 1999 and 2001 probably reflects a more general weakening in the subpolar gyre of the North Atlantic during the 1990s.
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