Continental runoff is a major source of freshwater, nutrients and terrigenous material to the Arctic Ocean. As such, it influences water column stratification, light attenuation, surface heating, gas exchange, biological productivity and carbon sequestration. Increasing river discharge and thawing permafrost suggest that the impacts of continental runoff on these processes are changing. Here, a new optical proxy was developed and implemented with remote sensing to determine the first pan-Arctic distribution of terrigenous dissolved organic matter (tDOM) and continental runoff in the surface Arctic Ocean. Retrospective analyses revealed connections between the routing of North American runoff and the recent freshening of the Canada Basin and indicated a correspondence between climate-driven changes in river discharge and tDOM inventories in the Kara Sea. By facilitating the real-time, synoptic monitoring of tDOM and freshwater runoff in surface polar waters, this novel approach will help understand the manifestations of climate change in this remote region.
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Published in Scientific Reports, Volume 3, 2013.
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Fichot, C. G., Kaiser, K., Hooker, S. B., Amon, R. M., Babin, M., Bélanger, S., Walker, S. A., & Benner, R. (2013). Pan-Arctic distributions of continental runoff in the Arctic Ocean. Scientific Reports, 3. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01053