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How do rising temperature and changing salinity affect ventilation of the intermediate and deep ocean?

PI: Cara C. Henning
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Additional Investigators: Inez Fung
As global temperatures and/or fresh water fluxes increase, we expect the upper ocean to become more buoyant, suggesting, at least at first, a larger vertical density gradient. This in turn can act to reduce the upwelling across isopycnals, which can reduce the communication of tracers from the abyss to the surface. In addition, it may also change the volume of water which outcrops at the surface in the polar latitudes, changing the pathways of water formation and tracer cycling. As the surface warms and/or freshens and certain isopycnals cease to outcrop, tracers along these isopycnals will be isolated from the surface and sequestered in the ocean on time scales shorter than diffusive time scales, but this may also limit the future capacity of tracer uptake at the surface. This will have particular relevance in the Southern Ocean, where tracers are brought to the surface and cycled back into the interior.

Necessary Data: Ocean potential temperature, salinity, potential density, vertical velocity, surface heat flux correction, and surface freshwater flux from several models and for the climate change scenarios extending for long periods in time (eg, #8: A1B and B1 going to year 2300). Any models which have a passive tracer would provide an opportunity to explicitly investigate tracer cycling.

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    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory  |  Physical & Life Sciences Directorate