Seawater radiocarbon evolution in the Gulf of Alaska: 2002 observations Academic Article uri icon


  • Oceanic uptake and transport of bomb radiocarbon as 14CO2 created by atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s has been a useful diagnostic for determining the carbon transfer between the ocean and atmosphere. In addition, the distribution of 14C in the ocean can be used as a tracer of oceanic circulation. Results obtained on samples collected in the Gulf of Alaska in the summer of 2002 provide a direct comparison with results in the 1970s during GEOSECS and in the early 1990s during WOCE. The open gyre values are 2040% lower than those documented in 1991 and 1993 (WOCE), although the general trends as a function of latitude are reproduced. Surface values are still significantly higher than pre-bomb levels ( 105% or lower). In the central gyre, we observe 14C values that are lower in comparison to GEOSECS (stn 218) and WOCE P16/P17 to a density of 26.8 t. This observation is consistent with the overall decrease in surface 14C values and reflects the erosion of the bomb-14C transient. We propose that erosion of the bomb-14C transient is accomplished by entrainment of low-14C water via vertical exchange within the Gulf of Alaska and replenishment of surface and subther-mocline waters with waters derived from the far northwest Pacific.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Guilderson, T. P., Roark, E. B., Quay, P. D., Page, S., & Moy, C.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Guilderson, TP||Roark, EB||Quay, PD||Page, SRF||Moy, C

publication date

  • January 1, 2006 11:11 AM