Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Research article
04 Jun 2012
Research article |  | 04 Jun 2012

Apparent oxygen utilization rates calculated from tritium and helium-3 profiles at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site

R. H. R. Stanley, S. C. Doney, W. J. Jenkins, and D. E. Lott, III

Abstract. We present three years of Apparent Oxygen Utilization Rates (AOUR) estimated from oxygen and tracer data collected over the ocean thermocline at monthly resolution between 2003 and 2006 at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site. We estimate water ages by calculating a transit time distribution from tritium and helium-3 data. The vertically integrated AOUR over the upper 500 m, which is a regional estimate of export, during the three years is 3.1 ± 0.5 mol O2 m−2 yr−1. This is comparable to previous AOUR-based estimates of export production at the BATS site but is several times larger than export estimates derived from sediment traps or 234Th fluxes. We compare AOUR determined in this study to AOUR measured in the 1980s and show AOUR is significantly greater today than decades earlier because of changes in AOU, rather than changes in ventilation rates. The changes in AOU are likely a methodological artefact associated with problems with early oxygen measurements.

Final-revised paper