Cycling and fate of carbon in the western Arctic Ocean during the Shelf-Basin Interactions Project

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry

First Committee Member

Dennis Hansell - Committee Chair


The Arctic Ocean and its surrounding marginal seas are highly dynamic areas where rates of seasonal primary productivity exceed those found in most other marine ecosystems. Because of the high rates of water column productivity, the Arctic plays an important role in the regional and global carbon cycle. During photosynthesis, dissolved inorganic carbon and nutrients are consumed by phytoplankton that produce organic carbon as a byproduct, thus drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Here, the dynamics of the carbon cycle in the Arctic are discussed in the context of a multidisciplinary project that was conducted in the western Arctic Ocean from 2002--2004. The discussion includes the spatial and temporal variability of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon, the seasonal rates of dissolved organic carbon production by marine organism, the interannual variability of net community production, and finally some of the mechanisms for moving shelf-fixed organic carbon into the interior Arctic Ocean. The Arctic is extremely sensitive to climate conditions, and predicted changes in atmospheric temperatures, sea ice cover, river runoff, and meteorological forcing could drastically impact the way that carbon and nutrients are cycled through Arctic ecosystems. The research presented here provides important insights into the current understanding of the carbon cycle in the western Arctic.


Physical Oceanography; Biogeochemistry

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