Supplement to: Ebser, Sven; Kersting, Arne; Stöven, Tim; Feng, Zhongyi; Ringena, Lisa; Schmidt, Maximilian; Tanhua, Toste; Aeschbach-Hertig, Werner; Oberthaler, Markus K (2018): 39Ar dating with small samples provides new key constraints on ocean ventilation. Nature Communications, 9(1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07465-7
Ocean ventilation is the integrated effect of various processes that exchange surface properties with the ocean interior and is essential for oxygen supply, storage of anthropogenic carbon and the heat budget of the ocean, for instance. Current observational methods utilise transient tracers, e.g. tritium, SF6, CFCs and 14C. However, their dating ranges are not ideal to resolve the centennial-dynamics of the deep ocean, a gap filled by the noble gas isotope 39Ar with a half-life of 269 years. Its broad application has been hindered by its very low abundance, requiring 1000 L of water for dating. Here we show successful 39Ar dating with 5 L of water based on the atom-optical technique Atom Trap Trace Analysis. Our data reveal previously not quantifiable ventilation patterns in the Tropical Atlantic, where we find that advection is more important for the ventilation of the intermediate depth range than previously assumed. Now, the demonstrated analytical capabilities allow for a global collection of 39Ar data, which will have significant impact on our ability to quantify ocean ventilation.
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