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Wellington atmospheric 14CO2 record

This dataset contains 60 years of Δ14CO2 measurements from Wellington, New Zealand (41°S, 175°E). 

The record has been extended and fully revised.  New measurements have been used to evaluate the existing record and to replace original measurements where warranted.  This is the earliest atmospheric Δ14CO2 record and records the rise of the 14C “bomb spike”, the subsequent decline in Δ14CO2 as bomb 14C moved throughout the carbon cycle and increasing fossil fuel CO2 emissions further decreased atmospheric Δ14CO2.  The initially large seasonal cycle in the 1960s reduces in amplitude and eventually reverses in phase, resulting in a small seasonal cycle of about 2 ‰ in the 2000s. Δ14CO2 at Cape Grim, Australia and Wellington show very similar trends, with significant differences only during periods of known measurement uncertainty.  In contrast, Northern Hemisphere clean air sites show a higher and earlier bomb 14C peak, consistent with a 1.4-year interhemispheric exchange time.  From the 1970s until the early 2000s, the Northern and Southern Hemisphere Δ14CO2 were quite similar, apparently due to the balance of 14C-free fossil fuel CO2 emissions in the north and 14C-depleted ocean upwelling in the south.  The Southern Hemisphere sites show a consistent and marked elevation above the Northern Hemisphere sites since the early 2000s, which is most likely due to reduced upwelling of 14C-depleted and carbon-rich deep waters in the Southern Ocean.  This developing Δ14CO2 interhemispheric gradient is consistent with recent studies that indicate a reinvigorated Southern Ocean carbon sink since the mid-2000s, and suggests that upwelling of deep waters plays an important role in this change. 

World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases

NIWA

Contact Jocelyn Turnbull 

The Wellington 14CO2 record 1954 – 2014 with the Baring Head sampling station in the background

The Wellington 14CO2 record 1954 – 2014 with the Baring Head sampling station in the background