Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Nature Study: Is modern Arctic Ocean Circulation exceptional?

The Arctic Ocean only has a limited exchange with the global ocean, whereby the Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard is the only deep water connection to the Atlantic Ocean. It is this connection that supplies oxygen to the deep Arctic Ocean.

Today a pronounced and stable freshwater layer at the surface originating from inputs of the large Russian rivers almost completely prevents any significant deep water formation in the Arctic Ocean itself. The results of Brian Haley and colleagues from the IFM-GEOMAR now show that this was an exception rather than the rule for most of the past 15 million years.

The Kiel team made their discovery when they carried out geochemical analyses on sediments of the Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX, Leg 302 of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)) and of a RV Polarstern expedition, which had been recovered near the North Pole on the Lomonosov Ridge between 1.000 und 1.200 m water depth. They reconstructed the seawater isotope ratio of the element neodymium (143Nd/144Nd) from the sediments. The Nd, which has characteristic isotope ratios in rocks as a function of their type and age, is transported to the ocean through weathering, where it provides information on the sources of water masses. To their surprise, the geochemists found that the isotope signature of the seawater was strongly different from the present day values, with the exception of the warm periods of the past 400.000 years. “It is even more surprising that this isotope signature indicated a pronounced influence of the weathering of basaltic rocks”, says Brian Haley. On the Circum-arctic landmasses such rocks, however, only exist in the form of the Siberian “Putorana flood basalts”.

From this geologically unique setting and taking into account the evolution of the continental ice sheets of the past 140.000 years, it was then possible to reconstruct the circulation history of the deep Arctic Ocean. The signature of the basalts can only have arrived at 1.000 m water depth in the central Arctic Ocean if vast amounts of new sea ice formed near the basalt areas in the Kara Sea area. How did the signature arrive at the seafloor? “During sea ice formation the salt of the sea water freezes out and is rejected, thereby forming highly saline brines, which were denser than the surrounding sea water. These brines sank and transported the dissolved Nd isotope signature of the basalts to the sea floor where the sediment cores were recovered”, explains Martin Frank, co-author of the study. Further, the obtained Nd isotope variations imply that the inflow of Atlantic waters was significantly reduced during most of the past 15 million years and during the glacial periods of the past 400.000 years. This also suggests that during these periods of time the main area of Atlantic deep water formation was not located in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, similar to today, but further south.

The arctic IODP ACEX drilling project was coordinated by the European consortium ECORD (European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling). This organization consists of partners from 17 European nations participating in the „International Ocean Drilling Programme“. ECORD is also responsible for the planning and coordination of special operations, for which normal drilling vessels cannot be used, as was the case for the ACEX project. For such purposes special platforms are used to achieve the scientific goals.

Andreas Villwock | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>