Inorganic Carbon and pCO2 Variability During Ice Formation in the Beaufort Gyre of the Canada Basin

Michael D. DeGrandpre, Chun Ze Lai, Mary Louise Timmermans, Richard A. Krishfield, Andrey Proshutinsky, Daniel Torres

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15 Scopus citations


Solute exclusion during sea ice formation is a potentially important contributor to the Arctic Ocean inorganic carbon cycle that could increase as ice cover diminishes. When ice forms, solutes are excluded from the ice matrix, creating a brine that includes dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (AT). The brine sinks, potentially exporting DIC and AT to deeper water. This phenomenon has rarely been observed, however. In this manuscript, we examine a ~1 year pCO2 mooring time series where a ~35-μatm increase in pCO2 was observed in the mixed layer during the ice formation period, corresponding to a simultaneous increase in salinity from 27.2 to 28.5. Using salinity and ice based mass balances, we show that most of the observed increases can be attributed to solute exclusion during ice formation. The resulting pCO2 is sensitive to the ratio of AT and DIC retained in the ice and the mixed layer depth, which controls dilution of the ice-derived AT and DIC. In the Canada Basin, of the ~92 μmol/kg increase in DIC, 17 μmol/kg was taken up by biological production and the remainder was trapped between the halocline and the summer stratified surface layer. Although not observed before the mooring was recovered, this inorganic carbon was likely later entrained with surface water, increasing the pCO2 at the surface. It is probable that inorganic carbon exclusion during ice formation will have an increasingly important influence on DIC and pCO2 in the surface of the Arctic Ocean as seasonal ice production and wind-driven mixing increase with diminishing ice cover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4017-4028
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Arctic Ocean
  • carbon cycle
  • dissolved inorganic carbon
  • partial pressure of CO
  • sea ice
  • solute exclusion


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