Pathways and mean residence times of dissolved pollutants in the ocean derived from transient tracers and stable isotopes

P. Schlosser, R. Bayer, G. Bönisch, L. W. Cooper, B. Ekwurzel, W. J. Jenkins, S. Khatiwala, S. Pfirman, W. M. Smethie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


During the past decades, a variety of transient tracers have been used to derive information on pathways and mean residence times of oceanic water masses. Here, we discuss how information obtained in such studies can be applied to studying the spreading of dissolved pollutants in the ocean. The discussion focuses on the transient tracers tritium/3He and the H2/18O/H2/16O ratio of water. These tracers are used in combination with CFCs and 14C in a case study of Arctic Ocean contaminant transport to: (1) separate the freshwater components contained in the near-surface waters; (2) infer mean pathways of freshwater and associated contaminants from the H2/18O/H2/16O distribution in the surface waters; and (3) determine mean residence times of the surface, intermediate, deep and bottom waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-30
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Sep 30 1999



  • Oceanic waters
  • Pathways
  • Pollutants
  • Residence times
  • Tracers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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