Trace metals in the marine environment are found in trace amounts, but are important tracers of oceanographic processes, and bioactive trace metals can impact ocean biogeochemistry through their nutrient or toxic influence of microbial populations. Sea ice is an intrinsic feature of the Arctic Ocean that likely plays a key role in the cycling of trace metals, given that this substrate can concentrate, alter, and transport these elements. Warming conditions in the Arctic have decreased sea ice cover over the past decades and the loss of sea ice threatens to drastically change the Arctic ecosystem, but the implications are not entirely understood. The scarcity of studies on Arctic sea ice entrained trace metals is due in part to the lack of commercially available sampling equipment capable of collecting sea ice without introducing contamination, and in part to the logistic and economic difficulties in accessing remote Arctic sea ice sites. Natural heterogeneity related to large sediment loads incorporated in uneven patches across Arctic fast ice poses a challenge when designing observational studies of trace metals in sea ice. The scope of this thesis is on the study of trace metals in Alaskan Beaufort Sea fast ice environment. The study includes snow, sea ice and seawater under the ice. Analysis of dissolved (Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn) and particulate (Al, Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn) phases was carried out from 50 ice cores collected with a trace metal clean ice corer developed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The results of this study indicated that the ice corer developed at UAF was able to collect uncontaminated samples. Highly variable and elevated concentrations of particulate (> 0.2 μm) trace elements were observed due to the notable variability in the amount of sediment incorporated within ice cores, but surprisingly dissolved (< 0.2 μm) metal concentrations were relatively low and consistent. The observed low dissolved metal concentrations, along with low bulk salinity and low percent leachable particulate trace metal fractions, suggest that desalination removed reactive metals from the ice matrix prior to sampling. Spatial variability of dissolved and particulate trace metals was statistically analyzed and indicated generally negligible variability on the meter scale, but significant variability on the kilometer scale, for both size classes. These results emphasize that future studies of trace metals in sea ice should include temporal and spatial considerations.
Thesis (M.S.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2017
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction -- Chapter 2: Spatial variability of Al, Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn in Beaufort Sea fast ice -- Chapter 3: Conclusions.
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