Water mass distribution and ventilation time scales in a cost-efficient, 3-dimensional ocean model

Müller, S. A.; Joos, F.; Edwards, N. R. and Stocker, T. F. (2006). Water mass distribution and ventilation time scales in a cost-efficient, 3-dimensional ocean model. Journal of Climate, 19(21) pp. 5479–5499.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI3911.1


A cost-efficient, seasonally forced 3-dimensional frictional-geostrophic balance ocean model (Bern3D) has been developed that features isopycnal diffusion and Gent-McWilliams transport parameterization, 32 depth layers, and an implicit numerical scheme for the vertical diffusion. It has been tuned towards observed CFC-11 inventories and deep ocean radiocarbon signatures to reproduce the ventilation time scales of the thermocline and the deep ocean. Model results are consistent with the observed large-scale distributions of temperature, salinity, natural and bomb- produced radiocarbon, CFC-11, anthropogenic carbon, 39Ar/Ar and estimates of the meridional heat transport. Root mean square errors for the temperature and salinity fields are 1 K and 0.2 psu, comparable to results from the Ocean Carbon-Cycle Model Intercomparison Project. Global inventories of CFC-11 and anthropogenic carbon agree closely with observation-based estimates. Model weaknesses include a too weak formation and propagation of Antarctic Intermediate Water and of North Atlantic Deep Water. The model has been applied to quantify the recent carbon balance, surface-to-deep transport mechanisms, and the importance of vertical resolution for deep equatorial upwelling. Advection is a dominant surface-to-deep transport mechanism, whereas explicit diapycnal mixing is of little importance for passive tracers and contributes less than three percent to the modeled CFC-11 inventory in the Indo-Pacific. Decreasing the vertical resolution from 32 to 8 layers causes deep equatorial upwelling to increase by more than a factor of four. Modeled ocean uptake of anthropogenic carbon is 19.7 GtC over the decade from 1993 to 2003, comparable to an estimate from atmospheric oxygen data of 22.4 ± 6.1 GtC.

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