A box model provides a simple and quantitative description of a tracer in the ocean. The ocean (or a part of the ocean) is described as a reservoir with a homogeneous tracer concentration. The tracer is fed by inflow and source terms and removed by outflow and sink terms. The conservation equation provides the balance between these fluxes and determines the evolution of the system: steady state if inputs balance outputs or transient state otherwise. The transient evolution of a tracer is considered for both constant and exponential forcings and applied to anthropogenic tracers. Each tracer is characterized by its residence time which is a consequence of its chemical/biological behavior and of the water residence time. Box models are used to determine ocean rates with isotopic tracers.
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