Uncertainties in gas exchange parameterization during the SAGE dual-tracer experiment

Murray J. Smith, David T. Ho, Cliff S. Law, John McGregor, Stéphane Popinet, Peter Schlosser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A dual tracer experiment was carried out during the SAGE experiment using the inert tracers SF6 and 3He, in order to determine the gas transfer velocity, k, at high wind speeds in the Southern Ocean. Wind speed/gas exchange parameterization is characterised by significant variability and we examine the major measurement uncertainties that contribute to that scatter. Correction for the airflow distortion over the research vessel, as determined by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling, had the effect of increasing the calculated value of k by 30%. On the short time scales of such experiments, the spatial variability of the wind field resulted in differences between ship and satellite QuikSCAT winds, which produced significant differences in transfer velocity. With such variability between wind estimates, the comparison between gas exchange parameterizations from diverse experiments should clearly be made on the basis of the same wind product. Uncertainty in mixed layer depth of ~10% arose from mixed layer deepening at high wind speed and limited resolution of vertical sampling. However the assumption of equal mixing of the two tracers is borne out by the experiment. Two dual tracer releases were carried out during SAGE, and showed no significant difference in transfer velocities using QuikSCAT winds, despite the differences in wind history. In the SAGE experiment, duration limitation on the development of waves was shown to be an important factor for Southern Ocean waves, despite the presence of long fetches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-881
Number of pages13
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • 3He
  • Air-flow distortion
  • Dual tracer experiment
  • Gas transfer velocity
  • SF6 tracer
  • Wind speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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