Dissolved Neodymium Isotopes Trace Origin and Spatiotemporal Evolution of Modern Arctic Sea Ice

Ilka.Peeken [ at ] awi.de


The lifetime and thickness of Arctic sea ice have markedly decreased in the recent past. This affects Arctic marine ecosystems and the biological pump, given that sea ice acts as platform and transport medium of marine and atmospheric nutrients. At the same time sea ice reduces light penetration to the Arctic Ocean and restricts ocean/atmosphere exchange. In order to understand the ongoing changes and their implications, reconstructions of source regions and drift trajectories of Arctic sea ice are imperative. Automated ice tracking approaches based on satellite-derived sea-ice motion products (e.g. ICETrack) currently perform well in dense ice fields, but provide limited information at the ice edge or in poorly ice-covered areas. Radiogenic neodymium (Nd) isotopes (εNd) have the potential to serve as a chemical tracer of sea-ice provenance and thus may provide information beyond what can be expected from satellite-based assessments. This potential results from pronounced εNd differences between the distinct marine and riverine sources, which feed the surface waters of the different sea-ice formation regions. We present the first dissolved (< 0.45 µm) Nd isotope and concentration data obtained from optically clean Arctic first- and multi-year sea ice (ice cores) collected from different ice floes across the Fram Strait during the RV POLARSTERN cruise PS85 in 2014. Our data confirm the preservation of the seawater εNdsignatures in sea ice despite low Nd concentrations (on average ~ 6 pmol/kg) resulting from efficient brine rejection. The large range in εNd signatures (~ -10 to -30) mirrors that of surface waters in various parts of the Arctic Ocean, indicating that differences between ice floes but also between various sections in an individual ice core reflect the origin and evolution of the sea ice over time. Most ice cores have εNd signatures of around -10, suggesting that the sea ice was formed in well-mixed waters in the central Arctic Ocean and transported directly to the Fram Strait via the Transpolar Drift. Some ice cores, however, also revealed highly unradiogenic signatures (εNd < ~ -15) in their youngest (bottom) sections, which we attribute to incorporation of meltwater from Greenland into newly grown sea ice layers. Our new approach facilitates the reconstruction of the origin and spatiotemporal evolution of isolated sea-ice floes in the future Arctic.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Event Details
EGU General Assembly 2020, 04 May 2020 - 08 May 2020.
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7782

Cite as
Laukert, G. , Bauch, D. , Peeken, I. , Krumpen, T. , Werner, K. , Hathorne, E. , Gutjahr, M. , Kassens, H. and Frank, M. (2020): Dissolved Neodymium Isotopes Trace Origin and Spatiotemporal Evolution of Modern Arctic Sea Ice , EGU General Assembly 2020, 4 May 2020 - 8 May 2020 . doi: 10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7782

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