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Biogeochemical Cycling of Carbon and Trace Metals along West Greenland

Schmidt, Claudia Elena; Thomas, Helmuth; Proefrock, Daniel

The Arctic Ocean and its coastal areas are especially vulnerable to climate change. Its ecosystem is rapidly changing in response to temperature increase, loss of sea ice, and the combined effects of additional stressors such as freshwater input and legacy pollutants. However, the scientific community currently lacks sufficient information on the mechanisms and drivers behind the biogeochemical cycling of these additional inputs and the consequences that may arise for the Arctic environment.

In August 2021, water samples were collected in 5 offshore transects along the coast of West Greenland between Nuuk and Disko Bugt. The aim of the ongoing study is to understand the mechanism of trace metal and carbon cycling in polar coastal areas that are influenced by meltwater fluxes from retreating glaciers, icebergs and sea ice. Therefore, filtered water samples (< 45 µm) were subjected to multi-element analysis via ICP-MS and measured for further parameters such as alkalinity (AT), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and nutrients. Our preliminary results show distinct element distribution patterns and fluxes in the water column from coast to ocean as well as along the coastline, helping identify the biogeochemical behavior of different trace metals. Additionally, the difference of various freshwater sources on altering the CO2 system can be illustrated. Along the coastline, we see a prominent influence of glacial meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet whereas offshore stations are more affected by the melting sea ice cover. The collected data provides first valuable insights into biogeochemical processes and carbon sequestration in high-latitude coastal regions affected by climate change and thus help predict future changes and impacts on Arctic ecosystems.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No. 869383 (ECOTIP).

This poster was shown at the Gordon Research Conference Polar Marine Science from 5 - 10 March 2023.
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