UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Changes in Circulation and Particle Scavenging in the Amerasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean over the Last Three Decades Inferred from the Water Column Distribution of Geochemical Tracers Grenier, Mélanie; François, Roger; Soon, Maureen; van der Loeff, Michiel Rutgers; Yu, Xiaoxin; Valk, Ole; Not, Christelle; Moran, S. Bradley; Edwards, R. Lawrence; Lu, Yanbin; et al.


Since the 1980–1990s, international research efforts have augmented our knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of the Arctic Ocean water masses, and recent studies have documented changes. Understanding the processes responsible for these changes is necessary to be able to forecast the local and global consequences of these property evolutions on climate. The present work investigates the distributions of geochemical tracers of particle fluxes and circulation in the Amerasian Basin and their temporal evolution over the last three decades (from stations visited between 1983 and 2015). Profiles of ²³⁰‐thorium (²³⁰Th) and ²³¹‐protactinium (²³¹Pa) concentrations and neodymium isotopes (expressed as εNd) measured in the Amerasian Basin prior to 2000 are compared to a new, post‐2000s data set. The comparison shows a large scale decrease in dissolved ²³⁰Th and ²³¹Pa concentrations, suggesting intensification of scavenging by particle flux, especially in coastal areas. Higher productivity and sediment resuspension from the shelves appear responsible for the concentration decrease along the margins. In the basin interior, increased lateral exchanges with the boundary circulation also contribute to the decrease in concentration. This study illustrates how dissolved ²³⁰Th and ²³¹Pa, with εNd support, can provide unique insights not only into changes in particle flux but also into the evolution of ocean circulation and mixing.

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