Evaluation of ocean model ventilation with CFC-11: Comparison of 13 global ocean models

J. C. Dutay, J. C. Orr, P. Monfray, J. L. Bullister, S. C. Doney, M. W. Hecht, K. Lindsay, R. Najjar, K. Caldeira, J. M. Campin, H. Drange, Y. Gao, M. Follows, J. C. Marshall, N. Gruber, Jorge Louis Sarmiento, R. Slater, A. Ishida, Y. Yamanaka, F. JoosG. K. Plattner, G. Madec, E. Maier-Reimer, R. J. Matear, R. Schlitzer, M. F. Weirig, I. J. Totterdell, A. Yool

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We compared the 13 models participating in the Ocean Carbon Model Intercomparison Project (OCMIP) with regards to their skill in matching observed distributions of CFC-11. This analysis characterizes the abilities of these models to ventilate the ocean on timescales relevant for anthropogenic CO2 uptake. We found a large range in the modeled global inventory (±30%), mainly due to differences in ventilation from the high latitudes. In the Southern Ocean, models differ particularly in the longitudinal distribution of the CFC uptake in the intermediate water, whereas the latitudinal distribution is mainly controlled by the subgrid-scale parameterization. Models with isopycnal diffusion and eddy-induced velocity parameterization produce more realistic intermediate water ventilation. Deep and bottom water ventilation also varies substantially between the models. Models coupled to a sea-ice model systematically provide more realistic AABW formation source region; however these same models also largely overestimate AABW ventilation if no specific parameterization of brine rejection during sea-ice formation is included. In the North Pacific Ocean, all models exhibit a systematic large underestimation of the CFC uptake in the thermocline of the subtropical gyre, while no systematic difference toward the observations is found in the subpolar gyre. In the North Atlantic Ocean, the CFC uptake is globally underestimated in subsurface. In the deep ocean, all but the adjoint model, failed to produce the two recently ventilated branches observed in the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). Furthermore, simulated transport in the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) is too sluggish in all but the isopycnal model, where it is too rapid. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-120
Number of pages32
JournalOcean Modelling
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Oceanography
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


  • CFC
  • Models
  • Ocean ventilation
  • Transient tracers


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