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Dissolved organic matter in Antarctic sea ice

  • David N. Thomas (a1), Gerhard Kattner (a2), Ralph Engbrodt (a2), Virginia Giannelli (a1), Hilary Kennedy (a1), Christian Haas (a2) and Gerhard S. Dieckmann (a2)...


It has been hypothesized that there are significant dissolved organic matter (DOM) pools in sea-ice systems, although measurements of DOM in sea ice have only rarely been made. The significance of DOM for ice-based productivity and carbon turnover therefore remains highly speculative. DOM within sea ice from the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas, Antarctica, in 1994 and the Weddell Sea, Antarctica, in 1992 and 1997 was investigated. Measurements were made on melted sea-ice sections in 1994 and 1997 and in sea-ice brines in 1992. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) concentrations in melted ice cores were up to 1.8 and 0.78 mM, respectively, or 30 and 8 times higher than those in surface water concentrations, respectively. However, when concentrations within the brine channel/pore space were calculated from estimated brine volumes, actual concentrations of DOC in brines were up to 23.3 mM and DON up to 2.2 mM, although mean values were 1.8 and 0.15 mM, respectively. There were higher concentrations of DOM in warm, porous summer second-year sea ice compared with colder autumn first-year ice, consistent with the different biological activity supported within the various ice types. However, in general there was poor correlation between DOC and DON with algal biomass and numbers of bacteria within the ice. The mean DOC/DON ratio was 11, although again values were highly variable, ranging from 3 to highly carbon-enriched samples of 95. Measurements made on a limited dataset showed that carbohydrates constitute on average 35% of the DOC pool, with highly variable contributions of 1−99%.

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