Oxygen saturation surrounding deep-water formation events in the Labrador Sea from Argo-O2 data




Wolf, Mitchell

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Deep-water formation supplies oxygen-rich water to the deep sea, spreading throughout the ocean via the global thermohaline circulation. Models suggest that gases in newly formed deep-water do not come to equilibrium with the atmosphere. However, direct measurements during wintertime convection are scarce, and the controls over the extent of this disequilibria are poorly quantified. Here we show that oxygen is consistently undersaturated at -6.3% to -7.6% in the Labrador Sea at the end of convection, when convection reaches deeper than 800 m. Deeper convection resulted in greater undersaturation while convection lasting later in the year resulted in values closer to equilibrium, from which we produce a predictive relationship. We use dissolved oxygen data from six profiling Argo floats in the Labrador Sea between 2003 to 2016, allowing direct observations of wintertime convection. Four of the six optode oxygen sensors displayed in situ drift of -2.98 μmol O2 kg-1 year-1 on average, which we corrected to stable deep-water oxygen values from repeat hydrography. Observations of low oxygen intrusions during restratification and a simple mixing calculation demonstrate that lateral processes act to lower the oxygen inventory of the central Labrador Sea. This suggests that the Labrador Sea is a net sink for atmospheric oxygen, but uncertainties in parameterizing gas exchange limit our ability to quantify the net uptake. Our results constrain the initial oxygen concentration of Labrador Sea Water and allow more precise estimates of oxygen utilization and nutrient regeneration in this water mass.



Labrador Sea, dissolved oxygen, air-sea gas exchange, oxygen uptake, deep-water formation, deep convection, oxygen equilibrium, oxygen saturation