Sea ice concentration impacts dissolved organic gases in the Canadian Arctic

Charel Wohl, Anna E. Jones, William T. Sturges, Philip D. Nightingale, Brent Else, Brian J. Butterworth, Mingxi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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The marginal sea ice zone has been identified as a source of different climate-active gases to the atmosphere due to its unique biogeochemistry. However, it remains highly undersampled, and the impact of summertime changes in sea ice concentration on the distributions of these gases is poorly understood. To address this, we present measurements of dissolved methanol, acetone, acetaldehyde, dimethyl sulfide, and isoprene in the sea ice zone of the Canadian Arctic from the surface down to 60 m. The measurements were made using a segmented flow coil equilibrator coupled to a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer. These gases varied in concentrations with depth, with the highest concentrations generally observed near the surface. Underway (3–4 m) measurements showed higher concentrations in partial sea ice cover compared to ice-free waters for most compounds. The large number of depth profiles at different sea ice concentrations enables the proposition of the likely dominant production processes of these compounds in this area. Methanol concentrations appear to be controlled by specific biological consumption processes. Acetone and acetaldehyde concentrations are influenced by the penetration depth of light and stratification, implying dominant photochemical sources in this area. Dimethyl sulfide and isoprene both display higher surface concentrations in partial sea ice cover compared to ice-free waters due to ice edge blooms. Differences in underway concentrations based on sampling region suggest that water masses moving away from the ice edge influences dissolved gas concentrations. Dimethyl sulfide concentrations sometimes display a subsurface maximum in ice -free conditions, while isoprene more reliably displays a subsurface maximum. Surface gas concentrations were used to estimate their air–sea fluxes. Despite obvious in situ production, we estimate that the sea ice zone is absorbing methanol and acetone from the atmosphere. In contrast, dimethyl sulfide and isoprene are consistently emitted from the ocean, with marked episodes of high emissions during ice-free conditions, suggesting that these gases are produced in ice-covered areas and emitted once the ice has melted. Our measurements show that the seawater concentrations and air–sea fluxes of these gases are clearly impacted by sea ice concentration. These novel measurements and insights will allow us to better constrain the cycling of these gases in the polar regions and their effect on the oxidative capacity and aerosol budget in the Arctic atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1045
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022

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