Marine CO2 system variability in a high arctic tidewater-glacier fjord system, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard

Highlights

• The marine CO2 system was investigated in an Arctic fjord between 2015 and 2017.

• Primary production caused the largest changes observed in pCO2 and the saturation state of aragonite.

• Air-sea CO2 uptake and freshwater release governed the surface pCO2 over the melt season.

• At least a freshwater fraction larger than 50% was needed to provide aragonite undersaturated waters.

• An excess in the salinity normalized DIC, corrected for primary production/respiration, was found in the deepest water.

Abstract

The marine CO2 system in Tempelfjorden (Svalbard) was investigated between August 2015 and December 2017 using total alkalinity, pH, temperature, salinity, oxygen isotopic ratio, and nutrient data. Primary production resulted in the largest changes that were observed in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2, 140 μatm) and the saturation state of aragonite (ΩAr, 0.9). Over the period of peak freshwater discharge (June to August), the freshwater addition and air-sea CO2 uptake (on average 15.5 mmol m−2 day−1 in 2017) governed the surface pCO2. About one fourth of the uptake was driven by the freshening. The sensitivity of ΩAr to the freshwater addition was investigated using robust regressions. If the effect of air-sea CO2 exchange was removed from ΩAr, a freshwater fraction larger than 50% (lower range of uncertainty) was needed to provide aragonite undersaturated waters. This study shows that ΩAr and freshwater fraction relationships that are derived from regression techniques and the interpretation thereof are sensitive to the effect of air-sea CO2 exchange. Since the freshening in itself only drives a fraction of the air-sea CO2 uptake, studies that do not account for this exchange will overestimate the impact of freshwater on ΩAr. Finally, in the summer an excess in the salinity normalized dissolved inorganic carbon, corrected for aerobic primary production/respiration, of on average 86 μmol kg−1 was found in the deepest water of the fjord. This excess is suggested to be a result of enhanced CO2 uptake and brine release during the period of sea ice growth.

Ericson Y., Falck E., Chierici M., Fransson A. & Kristiansen S., in press. Marine CO2 system variability in a high arctic tidewater-glacier fjord system, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard. Continental Shelf Research. Article (subscription required).

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