Linkages among runoff, dissolved organic carbon, and the stable oxygen isotope composition of seawater and other water mass indicators in the Arctic Ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and ?18O values have been determined following sampling of runoff from a number of major arctic rivers, including the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Mackenzie and Yukon in 2003-2004. These data are considered in conjunction with marine data for DOC, ?18O values, nutrients, salinity, and fluorometric indicators of DOC that were obtained as part of the Shelf-Basin Interactions program at the continental shelf-basin boundary of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. These marine data indicate that the freshwater component is most likely derived from regional sources, such as the Mackenzie, the Bering Strait inflow and possibly eastern Siberian rivers, including the Kolyma, or the Lena but not rivers further west in the Eurasian arctic. Contributions of freshwater from melted sea ice to marine surface waters appeared to be insignificant over annual cycles compared to runoff, although on a seasonal basis, freshwater from melted sea ice was locally dominant following a major sea-ice retreat into the Canada Basin in 2002. DOC concentrations were correlated with the runoff fraction, with an apparent meteoric water DOC concentration of 174 ± 1 ?M (standard error). This concentration is lower than the flow-weighted concentrations measured at river mouths of the five largest Arctic rivers (358 to 917 ?M), indicating that removal of terrigenous DOC during transport through estuaries, shelves and in the deep basin. DOC data indicate that flow-weighted concentrations in the two largest North American arctic rivers, the Yukon (625?M) and the Mackenzie (382 ?M), are lower than in the three largest Eurasian arctic rivers, the Ob (825 ?M), the Yenesey (858 ?M) and the Lena (917 ?M). A fluorometric indicator of chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) that has provided estimates of terrigenous DOC concentrations in the Eurasian Arctic was not correlated with DOC concentrations in the Amerasian marine waters studied, except below the upper Arctic Ocean halocline. Nutrient distributions and concentrations as well as derived nutrient ratios suggest the CDOM fluorometer may be responding to the release of chromophoric materials from continental shelf sediments. Shipboard incubation experiments with undisturbed sediment cores indicate that continental shelf sediments on the Bering and Chukchi Sea shelves are likely to be a net source of DOC to the Arctic Ocean.

publication date

  • December 2005