Publication Abstracts

Lerner et al. 2020

Lerner, P., O. Marchal, P.J. Lam, W. Gardner, M.J. Richardson, and A. Mishonov, 2020: A model study of the relative influences of scavenging and circulation on 230Th and 231Pa in the western North Atlantic. Deep Sea Res. I, 155, 103159, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103159.

The oceanic cycles of thorium-230 and protactinium-231 are affected by a number of processes, such as removal by adsorption to settling particles and transport by ocean currents. Measurements obtained as part of GEOTRACES and earlier programs have shown that, in the North Atlantic, the activities of dissolved 230Th (230Thd) and 231Pa (231Pad) at abyssal depths are lower near the western margin than in the basin interior. At least two factors could explain the lower 230Thd and 231Pad near the margin: (i) intensified scavenging in benthic nepheloid layers (BNLs) extending a thousand meters or more above the seafloor; and (ii) ventilation by relatively 230Thd- and 231Pad-poor waters emanating from the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC).

Here a regional ocean circulation model with "eddy-permitting" resolution (1/4°) that incorporates 230Th and 231Pa is used in an effort to reproduce the observed distributions of 230Th and 231Pa in the western North Atlantic. In this model, 230Th and 231Pa removal from solution is governed by a prescribed distribution of particulate matter that is derived from a recent synthesis of nephelometer and transmissometer data. The model simulates a meandering Gulf Stream and a DWBC along the continental slope and rise, although noticeable differences with physical observations also exist. A model solution is found that explains most of the variance of 230Thd measurements (85%) and 231Pad measurements (81%) from (pre-)GEOTRACES cruises. On the other hand, measurements of particulate 230Th (230Thp) and 231Pa (231Pap) are more difficult to reproduce, with the same solution accounting for only 49% (11%) of the 230Thp (231Pap) variance. Sensitivity experiments suggest that the low 230Thd and 231Pad activities observed near the western margin are due to enhanced removal rates of both nuclides in BNLs rather than to deep water ventilation from the western boundary. The radionuclide activities present in the DWBC at its inflow location are also found to strongly influence the basin-scale distributions of 230Th and 231Pa. Overall, our study points to BNLs as important sites of 230Th and 231Pa scavenging in the ocean and illustrates the difficulty to explain simultaneously radionuclide measurements in dissolved and particulate forms in the studied area.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Lerner, P. and Marchal, O. and Lam, P. J. and Gardner, W. and Richardson, M. J. and Mishonov, A.},
  title={A model study of the relative influences of scavenging and circulation on 230Th and 231Pa in the western North Atlantic},
  journal={Deep Sea Res. I},

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RIS Citation

ID  - le07800j
AU  - Lerner, P.
AU  - Marchal, O.
AU  - Lam, P. J.
AU  - Gardner, W.
AU  - Richardson, M. J.
AU  - Mishonov, A.
PY  - 2020
TI  - A model study of the relative influences of scavenging and circulation on 230Th and 231Pa in the western North Atlantic
JA  - Deep Sea Res. I
VL  - 155
SP  - 103159
DO  - 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103159
ER  -

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