Sea surface pCO2 and O2 dynamics in the partially ice-covered Arctic Ocean

Understanding the physical and biogeochemical processes that control CO2 and dissolved oxygen (DO) dynamics in the Arctic Ocean (AO) is crucial for predicting future air-sea CO2 fluxes and ocean acidification. Past studies have primarily been conducted on the AO continental shelves during low-ice periods and we lack information on gas dynamics in the deep AO basins where ice typically inhibits contact with the atmosphere. To study these gas dynamics, in situ time-series data have been collected in the Canada Basin during late summer to autumn of 2012. Partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), DO concentration, temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll-a fluorescence (Chl-a) were measured in the upper ocean in a range of sea ice states by two drifting instrument systems. Although the two systems were on average only 222 km apart, they experienced considerably different ice cover and external forcings during the 40-50 d periods when data were collected. The pCO2 levels at both locations were well below atmospheric saturation whereas DO was almost always slightly supersaturated. Modeling results suggest that air-sea gas exchange, net community production (NCP) and horizontal gradients were the main sources of pCO2 and DO variability in the sparsely ice-covered AO. In areas more densely covered by sea ice, horizontal gradients were the dominant source of variability, with no significant NCP in the surface mixed layer. If the AO reaches equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 as ice cover continues to decrease, aragonite saturation will drop from a present mean of 1.00 ± 0.02 to 0.86 ± 0.01.

Islam F., DeGrandpre M. D., Beatty C. M., Timmermans M.-L., Krishfield R. A., Toole J. M. & Laney S. R., in press. Sea surface pCO2 and O2 dynamics in the partially ice-covered Arctic Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. Article (subscription required).

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