Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Calcium carbonate saturation states in the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Labrador Sea



[1] Ocean acidification is predicted to occur first in polar oceans. We investigated the saturation state of waters with respect to calcite (Ωcal) and aragonite (Ωarg) in six sections along an Arctic outflow pathway through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) and into the northwestern Atlantic using dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity measurements from 2003 to 2005. The study area, a key region connecting the Arctic and the North Atlantic, includes Smith Sound, Barrow Strait, Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Hudson Strait, and the Labrador Sea. The average Ωarg in the Arctic outflow was 1.18 ± 0.17 in Barrow Strait and 1.31 ± 0.14 in Smith Sound, with areas where Ωarg < 1. The Arctic outflow through the CAA has a high content of Pacific waters, which have a low saturation state. These waters can be traced along the western Baffin Bay to Davis Strait. South of Davis Strait, this outflow is modified by mixing with slope and offshore waters of Atlantic origin and with the outflow from Hudson Strait. Despite the mixing, low saturation state water can still be identified on the southern Labrador Shelf. The aragonite saturation horizon is found at ∼150 m in Barrow Strait; at 200 m in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and Hudson Strait; and at 2300 m in the Labrador Sea. This study provides baseline data of the saturation states for the waters of the CAA and the northwest Atlantic. It also illustrates the downstream evolution of low saturation state Arctic outflow in the northwest Atlantic.