First in situ'' determination of gas transport coefficients (DO2, DAr, and DN2) from bulk gas concentration measurements (O2, N2, Ar) in natural sea ice

Odile Crabeck, B. Delille, S. Rysgaard, D. N. Thomas, N. X. Geilfus, B. Else, J. L. Tison

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We report bulk gas concentrations of O2, N2, and Ar, as well as their transport coefficients, in natural landfast subarctic sea ice in southwest Greenland. The observed bulk ice gas composition was 27.5% O2, 71.4% N2, and 1.09% Ar. Most previous studies suggest that convective transport is the main driver of gas displacement in sea ice and have neglected diffusion processes. According to our data, brines were stratified within the ice, so that no convective transport could occur within the brine system. Therefore, diffusive transport was the main driver of gas migration. By analyzing the temporal evolution of an internal gas peak within the ice, we deduced the bulk gas transport coefficients for oxygen (DO2), argon (DAr), and nitrogen (DN2). The values fit to the few existing estimates from experimental work, and are close to the diffusivity values in water (10-5 cm2 s-1). We suggest that gas bubbles escaping from the brine to the atmosphereas the ice gets more permeable during meltcould be responsible for the previously reported high transport coefficients. These results underline that when there is no convective transport within the sea ice, the transport of gas by diffusion through the brines, either in the liquid or gaseous phases, is a major factor in controlling the ocean-atmosphere exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6655-6668
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
Early online date10 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

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