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Increasing carbon inventory of the intermediate layers of the Arctic Ocean

Journal article
Authors Ylva Ericson
Adam Ulfsbo
Steven van Heuven
Gerhard Kattner
Leif G Anderson
Published in Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans
Volume 119
Issue 4
Pages 2312-2326
ISSN 0148-0227
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 2312-2326
Language en
Subject categories Analytical Chemistry, Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


Concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), nutrients, and oxygen in subsurface waters of the central Arctic Ocean have been investigated for conceivable time trends over the last two decades. Data from six cruises (1991–2011) that cover the Nansen, Amundsen, and Makarov Basins were included in this analysis. In waters deeper than 2000 m, no statistically significant trend could be observed for DIC, TA, phosphate, or nitrate, but a small rate of increase in apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) was noticeable. For the individual stations, differences in concentration of each property were computed between the mean concentrations in the Arctic Atlantic Water (AAW) or the upper Polar Deep Water (uPDW), i.e., between about 150 and 1400 m depth, and in the deep water (assumed invariable over time). In these shallower water layers, we observe significant above-zero time trends for DIC, in the range of 0.6–0.9 μmol kg−1 yr−1 (for AAW) and 0.4–0.6 µmol kg−1 yr−1 (for uPDW). No time trend in nutrients could be observed, indicating no change in the rate of organic matter mineralization within this depth range. Consequently, the buildup of DIC is attributed to increasing concentrations of anthropogenic carbon in the waters flowing into these depth layers of the Arctic Ocean. The resulting rate of increase of the column inventory of anthropogenic CO2 is estimated to be between 0.6 and 0.9 mol C m−2 yr−1, with distinct differences between basins.

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