Stable Isotope Clues to the Formation and Evolution of Refrozen Melt Ponds on Arctic Sea Ice Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Sea ice is one of the determining parameters of the climate system. The presence of melt ponds on the surface of Arctic sea ice plays a critical role in the mass balance of sea ice. A total of nine cores was collected from multiyear ice refrozen melt ponds and adjacent hummocks during the 2015 Arctic Sea State research cruise. The depth profiles of water isotopes, salinity, and ice texture for these sea ice cores were examined to provide information about the development of refrozen melt ponds and water balance generation processes, which are otherwise difficult to acquire. The presence of meteoric water with low oxygen isotope values as relatively thin layers indicates melt pond water stability and little mixing during formation and refreezing. The hydrochemical characteristics of refrozen melt pond and seawater depth profiles indicate little snowmelt enters the upper ocean during melt pond refreezing. Due to the seasonal characters of deuterium excess for Arctic precipitation, water balance calculations utilizing two isotopic tracers (oxygen isotope and deuterium excess) suggest that besides the melt of snow cover, the precipitation input in the melt season may also play a role in the evolution of melt ponds. The dual?isotope mixing model developed here may become more valuable in a future scenario of increasing Arctic precipitation. The layers of meteoric origin were found at different depths in the refrozen melt pond ice cores. Surface topography information collected at several core sites was examined for possible explanations of different structures of refrozen melt ponds.

publication date

  • December 2018