Dissolved organic carbon distribution and origin in the Nordic Seas: Exchanges with the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic



[1] Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and in situ fluorescence were measured along with hydrographic parameters in the Greenland, Iceland, and Norwegian Seas (Nordic Seas). Surface (<100 m) concentrations of DOC ranged from 60 to 118 μM with elevated values in the East Greenland Current (EGC) which transports water from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic. EGC surface waters also showed a pronounced fluorescence maximum between 30 and 120 m depth in all EGC sections indicating the abundance of Arctic river derived DOC in this current. Based on fluorescence we estimated that 20–50% of the annual river discharge to the Arctic Ocean was exported in the EGC. The fluorescence maximum was typically associated with salinity around 33 and temperatures below −1°C which are characteristic of surface and upper halocline water in the Arctic Ocean. The elevated fluorescence in this water mass suggests a strong Eurasian shelf component and also suggests that in situ fluorescence could be used to trace Eurasian shelf water in the central Arctic Ocean. DOC concentrations in the Nordic Sea basins (>1000 m) were relatively high (∼50 μM DOC) compared with other ocean basins indicating active vertical transport of DOC in this region on decadal timescales. Based on existing vertical transport estimates and 15 μM of semilabile DOC we calculated an annual vertical net DOC export of 3.5 Tg C yr−1 in the Greenland Sea and about 36 Tg C yr−1 for the entire Arctic Mediterranean Sea (AMS) including the Greenland-Scotland Ridge overflow. It appears that physical processes play a determining role for the distribution of DOC in the AMS.