• On the 14C to Tritium Relationship in the North Atlantic Ocean

      Roether, Wolfgang; Münnich, Karl-Otto; Schoch, Hildegard (American Journal of Science, 1980-01-01)
      Nuclear-weapon produced 14C (or bomb 14C) in the ocean can be traced by simultaneous tritium observations. Data are presented on the general relationship of bomb 14C and tritium in the North Atlantic. For the period 1965 to 1973, the excess 14C to tritium ratios in the surface water vary, systematically, over a factor of 10: the ratios monotonically increase with time, and decrease with latitude, particularly so for the later observations. The sub-surface water ratios show that the midand low-latitude water below about the 15 degrees C isothermal horizon (~500m depth) originates from higher northern latitudes, rather than being renewed by local vertical mixing. It is further shown that in the North Atlantic, bomb 14C did not penetrate beyond the horizon where the presently observed 14C concentration is Delta-14C = -75 per mil. Observed concentrations up to about -40 per mil can be corrected for a bomb contribution if the tritium concentration is known because the bomb 14C to tritium concentration ratio is rather uniform in this range. A surface water 14C concentration versus time curve is presented for the period since 1957. This curve is based on a North Atlantic mixing model and is fitted to the 14C observations. Making use of a previously published tritium versus time curve obtained by the same model, a time curve for the average excess 14C to tritium ratio in North Atlantic surface water is given. This curve reproduces the observations well. The presented data and theoretical curves show the usefulness of simultaneous 14C and tritium observations for mixing studies and to provide corrections for bomb 14C in sub-surface 14C data in the North Atlantic.