Articles | Volume 6, issue 11
04 Nov 2009
 | 04 Nov 2009

Calcium carbonate saturation in the surface water of the Arctic Ocean: undersaturation in freshwater influenced shelves

M. Chierici and A. Fransson

Abstract. In the summer of 2005, we sampled surface water and measured pH and total alkalinity (AT) underway aboard IB Oden along the Northwest Passage from Cape Farewell (South Greenland) to the Chukchi Sea. We investigated the variability of carbonate system parameters, focusing particularly on carbonate concentration [CO32−] and calcium carbonate saturation states, as related to freshwater addition, biological processes and physical upwelling. Measurements on AT, pH at 15°C, salinity (S) and sea surface temperature (SST), were used to calculate total dissolved inorganic carbon (CT), [CO32−] and the saturation of aragonite (ΩAr) and calcite (ΩCa) in the surface water. The same parameters were measured in the water column of the Bering Strait. Some surface waters in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) and on the Mackenzie shelf (MS) were found to be undersaturated with respect to aragonite (ΩAr<1). In these areas, surface water was low in AT and CT (<1500 μmol kg−1) relative to seawater and showed low [CO32−]. The low saturation states were probably due to the likely the effect of dilution due to freshwater addition by sea ice melt (CAA) and river runoff (MS). High AT and CT and low pH, corresponded with the lowest [CO32−], ΩAr and ΩCa, observed near Cape Bathurst and along the South Chukchi Peninsula. This was linked to the physical upwelling of subsurface water with elevated CO2. The highest surface ΩAr and ΩCa of 3.0 and 4.5, respectively, were found on the Chukchi Sea shelf and in the cold water north of Wrangel Island, which is heavily influenced by high CO2 drawdown and lower CT from intense biological production. In the western Bering Strait, the cold and saline Anadyr Current carries water that is enriched in AT and CT from enhanced organic matter remineralization, resulting in the lowest ΩAr (~1.2) of the area.

Final-revised paper