Southern Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment: Setting the stage

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The Southern Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment (SO GasEx) is the third in a series of U.S.-led open ocean process studies aimed at improving the quantification of gas transfer velocities and air-sea CO2 fluxes. Two deliberate 3He/SF6 tracer releases into relatively stable water masses selected for large pCO2 took place in the southwest Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean in austral fall of 2008. The tracer patches were sampled in a Lagrangian manner, using observations from discrete CTD/Rosette casts, continuous surface ocean and atmospheric monitoring, and autonomous drifting instruments to study the evolution of chemical and biological properties over the course of the experiment. CO2 and DMS fluxes were directly measured in the marine air boundary layer with micrometeorological techniques, and physical, chemical, and biological processes controlling air-sea fluxes were quantified with measurements in the upper ocean and marine air. Average wind speeds of 9 m s-1 to a maximum of 16 m s-1 were encountered during the tracer patch observations, providing additional data to constrain wind speed/gas exchange parameterizations. In this paper, we set the stage for the experiment by detailing the hydrographic observations during the site surveys and tracer patch occupations that form the underpinning of observations presented in the SO GasEx special section. Particular consideration is given to the mixed layer depth as this is a critical variable for estimates of fluxes and biogeochemical transformations based on mixed layer budgets. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans