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Netherlands Polar Data Center

Publication - Dissolved aluminium and the silicon cycle in the Arctic Ocean

Abstract

Concentrations of dissolved (0.2 µm filtered) aluminium (Al) have been determined for the first time in the Eurasian part of the Arctic Ocean over the entire water column during expedition ARK XXII/2 aboard R.V. Polarstern (2007). An unprecedented number of 666 samples was analysed for 44 stations along 5 ocean transects. Dissolved Al in surface layer water (SLW) was very low, close to 1 nM, with lowest SLW concentrations towards the Canadian part of the Arctic Ocean and higher values adjacent to and in the shelf seas. The low SLW concentrations indicate no or little influence from aeolian dust input. Dissolved Al showed a nutrient-type increase with depth up to 28 nM, but large differences existed between the different deep Arctic basins. The differences in concentrations of Al between water masses and basins could largely be related to the different origins of the water masses. In the SLW and intermediate water layers, Atlantic and Pacific inflows were of importance. Deep shelf convection appeared to influence the Al distribution in the deep Eurasian Basin. The Al distribution of the deep Makarov Basin provides evidence for Eurasian Basin water inflow into the deep Makarov Basin. A strong correlation between Al and Silicon (Si) was observed in all basins. This correlation and the nutrient-like profile indicate a strong biological influence on the cycling and distribution of Al. The biological influence can be direct by the incorporation of Al in biogenic silica, indirect by preferential scavenging of Al onto biogenic siliceous particles, or by a combination of both processes. From the slope of the overall Al–Si relationship in the intermediate water layer (AIDW; ~ 200–2000 m depth), an Al/Si ratio of 2.2 atoms Al per 1000 atoms Si was derived. This ratio is consistent with the range of previously reported Al/Si uptake ratio in biogenic opal frustules of diatoms. In the deepest waters (>2000 m depth) a steeper slope of the Al–Si relationship of 7.4 to 13 atoms Al per 1000 atoms Si likely results from entrainment of cold shelf water into the deep basins, carrying the signal of dissolution of terrigenous particles with a much higher Al:Si ratio of crustal abundance. Only a small enrichment with such crustal Al and Si component may readily account for the higher Al:Si slope in the deepest waters.

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