A tracer study of ventilation in the Japan/East Sea
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During the Circulation Research in East Asian Marginal Seas (CREAMS) summer cruises in 1999, a suite of samples was collected for tracer analysis, Oxygen isotopes combined with tritium-helium ventilation timescales and noble gas measurements give unique insights into the ventilation or water masses in the Japan East Sea (JES). In particular, noble gases and oxygen isotopes are indicators of brine rejection, which may assist in explaining the recent changes observed in the ventilation of the JES. Oxygen isotope data presented here indicate that both thermally driven convection and brine rejection have played significant roles in deep-water formation but that brine rejection is unlikely to be a significant contributor at the moment. A 6-box ventilation model of the JES, calibrated with tritium and helium-3 measurements, performed better when a significant decrease of dense-water formation rates in the mid-1960s was incorporated. However, the model calculations suggest that Japan Sea Intermediate Water formation is still occurring. Subduction of sea-ice melt water may be a significant ventilation mechanism for this water mass, based on an argon saturation minimum at the recently ventilated salinity minimum in the northwestern sector of the JES. The salinity and oxygen isotope budgets imply a potential bottom-water formation rate of 3.97 +/- 0.89 x 10(12) m(3) yr(1) due to brine rejection, which could account for a time averaged fraction of between 25% and 35% of the ventilation or subsurface water formation in the JES. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.