Linkages between the circulation and distribution of dissolved organic matter in the White Sea, Arctic Ocean

Alexey K. Pavlov, Colin A. Stedmon, Andrey V. Semushin, Tõnu Martma, Boris V. Ivanov, Piotr Kowalczuk, Mats A. Granskog

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The White Sea is a semi-enclosed Arctic marginal sea receiving a significant loading of freshwater (225-231 km3 yr-1 equaling an annual runoff yield of 2.5 m) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) from river run-off. We report discharge weighed values of stable oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) of -14.0‰ in Northern Dvina river for the period 10 May-12 October 2012. We found a significant linear relationship between salinity (S) and δ18O (δ18O=-17.66±0.58+0.52±0.02×S; R2=0.96, N=162), which indicates a dominant contribution of river water to the freshwater budget and little influence of sea ice formation or melt. No apparent brine additions from sea-ice formation is evident in the White Sea deep waters as seen from a joint analysis of temperature (T), S, δ18O and aCDOM(350) data, confirming previous suggestions about strong tidal induced vertical mixing in winter being the likely source of the deep waters. We investigated properties and distribution of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the White Sea basin and coastal areas in summer. We found contrasting DOM properties in the inflowing Barents Sea waters and White Sea waters influenced by terrestrial runoff. Values of absorption by CDOM at 350 nm (aCDOM(350)) and DOC (exceeding 10 m-1 and 550 μmol l-1, respectively) in surface waters of the White Sea basin are higher compared to other river-influenced coastal Arctic domains. Linear relationship between S and CDOM absorption, and S and DOC (DOC=959.21±52.99-25.80±1.79×S; R2=0.85; N=154) concentrations suggests conservative mixing of DOM in the White Sea. The strongest linear correlation between CDOM absorption and DOC was found in the ultraviolet (DOC=56.31±2.76+9.13±0.15×aCDOM(254); R2=0.99; N=155), which provides an easy and robust tool to trace DOC using CDOM absorption measurements as well as remote sensing algorithms. Deviations from this linear relationship in surface waters likely indicate contribution from different rivers along the coast of the White Sea. Characteristics of CDOM further indicate that there is limited removal or change in the DOM pool before it exits to the Barents Sea.
Original languageEnglish
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Pages (from-to)1-13
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology
  • Oceanography
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Colored dissolved organic matter
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Terrestrial runoff
  • White Sea


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