Dissolved and particulate trace elements in late summer Arctic melt ponds Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Elsevier B.V. Melt ponds are a prominent feature of Arctic sea ice during the summer and play a role in the complex interface between the atmosphere, cryosphere and surface ocean. During melt pond formation and development, micronutrient and contaminant trace elements (TEs) from seasonally accumulated atmospheric deposition are mixed with entrained sedimentary and marine-derived material before being released to the surface ocean during sea ice melting. Here we present particulate and size-fractionated dissolved (truly soluble and colloidal) TE data from five melt ponds sampled in late summer 2015, during the US Arctic GEOTRACES (GN01) cruise. Analyses of salinity, 18O, and 7Be indicate variable contributions to the melt ponds from snowmelt, melting sea ice, and surface seawater. Our data highlight the complex TE biogeochemistry of late summer Arctic melt ponds and the variable importance of different sources for specific TEs. Dissolved TE concentrations indicate a strong influence from seawater intrusion for V, Ni, Cu, Cd, and Ba. Ultrafiltration methods reveal dissolved Fe, Zn, and Pb to be mostly colloidal (0.0030.2 m), while Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, and Cd are dominated by a truly soluble (<0.003 m) fraction. Isotopically light dissolved Fe in some melt ponds suggests that photochemical and/or biologically driven redox cycling also takes place. Comparisons of particulate TE/Al ratios to mean crustal values indicate influences from lithogenic sources, including natural aerosols and/or sedimentary material, with significant enrichments for some elements, including Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb, that may result from anthropogenic aerosols, biogenic material, and/or in situ scavenging of dissolved TEs. Our results indicate that melt ponds represent a transitional environment in which some atmospherically-derived TEs undergo physical and/or chemical changes before their release to the surface ocean. As a result, the ongoing changes in sea ice areal extent, thickness, and melt season length are likely to influence the bioavailability of atmospheric TE input to the surface Arctic Ocean, with material released from snow and sea ice via melt ponds earlier in the summer and with more extensive direct deposition to the ocean surface.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 8.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Marsay, C. M., Aguilar-Islas, A., Fitzsimmons, J. N., Hatta, M., Jensen, L. T., John, S. G., ... Buck, C. S.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Marsay, Chris M||Aguilar-Islas, Ana||Fitzsimmons, Jessica N||Hatta, Mariko||Jensen, Laramie T||John, Seth G||Kadko, David||Landing, William M||Lanning, Nathan T||Morton, Peter L||Pasqualini, Angelica||Rauschenberg, Sara||Sherrell, Robert M||Shiller, Alan M||Twining, Benjamin S||Whitrnore, Laura M||Zhang, Ruifeng||Buck, Clifton S

publication date

  • August 2018