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Shelf-Basin Interactions and Water Mass Residence Times in the Western Arctic Ocean: Insights Provided by Radium Isotopes
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    Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124(5), 3279-3297.
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  • Description:
    Abstract Radium isotopes are produced through the decay of thorium in sediments and are soluble in seawater; thus, they are useful for tracing ocean boundary-derived inputs to the ocean. Here we apply radium isotopes to study continental inputs and water residence times in the Arctic Ocean, where land-ocean interactions are currently changing in response to rising air and sea temperatures. We present the distributions of radium isotopes measured on the 2015 U.S. GEOTRACES transect in the Western Arctic Ocean and combine this data set with historical radium observations in the Chukchi Sea and Canada Basin. The highest activities of radium-228 were observed in the Transpolar Drift and the Chukchi shelfbreak jet, signaling that these currents are heavily influenced by interactions with shelf sediments. The ventilation of the halocline with respect to inputs from the Chukchi shelf occurs on time scales of ≤19–23 years. Intermediate water ventilation time scales for the Makarov and Canada Basins were determined to be ~20 and >30 years, respectively, while deep water residence times in these basins were on the order of centuries. The radium distributions and residence times described in this study serve as a baseline for future studies investigating the impacts of climate change on the Arctic Ocean.

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