Interception of atmospheric fluxes by Arctic sea ice: Evidence from cosmogenic 7Be

P. Cámara-Mor, P. Masque, J. Garcia-Orellana, S. Kern, J. K. Cochran, C. Hanfland

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The natural cosmogenic radionuclide 7Be (T1/2 = 53.4 d) is supplied to the surface ocean from the atmosphere and, in the Arctic Ocean, can be used as a tracer of the efficiency with which sea ice intercepts the atmospheric fluxes of chemical species and of the importance of ice as a transport mechanism for particulate matter and chemical species. Analyses of 7Be in samples of surface water, surface sea ice, water beneath the ice, sea ice sediments, and precipitation from the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean show that the fraction of sea ice coverage determines the amount of 7Be in the surface water. When sea ice coverage is <40%, the 7Be inventory in the upper ocean (130 ± 19 Bq m-2) is in good agreement with that expected from the inventory from 7Be atmospheric flux (128 ± 21 Bq m-2). In contrast, when ice coverage is >80%, the water column inventory drops to 58 ± 20 Bq m-2. The 7Be inventory in sea ice is 39 ± 23 Bq m-2, and mass balance calculations show that sea ice can intercept 30 ± 18% of the atmospheric flux of 7Be during the studied period. We suggest that other atmospherically transported contaminants should be similarly intercepted. 7Be in the ice also can be used to estimate that the annual transport and release of sediment to the ablation area of the Fram Strait is ∼500 g m-2, a value comparable to previously measured fluxes in sediment traps deployed in the area. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberC12041
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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