Collaborative Research: GEOTRACES Arctic Section: Sampling and Analyses of Atmospheric Deposition

Project Details


In this project, a group of investigators participating in the 2015 U.S. GEOTRACES Arctic Ocean expedition will study the distribution of a variety of trace elements in seawater, sea ice, and marine air. It is important to understand where they are and how they move in the Arctic because some trace elements are essential to life, others are known biological toxins, and still others are important because they can be used as tracers of a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes in the sea. In common with other multinational initiatives in the International GEOTRACES Program, the goals of the U.S. Arctic expedition are to identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions. This multi-institutional team of ocean trace element experts will focus its attention on the importance of aerosol, precipitation, and sea ice melt water in trace element cycling. Results from this work will be disseminated through public educational initiatives, such as web communications and outreach to members of the public, including indigenous populations in Alaska. The project will also provide training for graduate and undergraduate students in biology and chemistry.

Atmospheric deposition is an important pathway and transport mechanism of both natural aerosols and contaminants to the ocean. Relative to other regions, atmospheric deposition rates in the Arctic are low and aerosols and dissolved chemicals in precipitation may be deposited directly to the sea surface or, unique to polar regions, onto sea ice. Given the unique biogeochemical processes of the region and its rapid changes in response to global climate change, quantifying the current atmospheric deposition of trace elements and isotopes to differing catchments (ocean, sea ice, and melt ponds) in the Arctic is critical to our ability to predict how their distribution may evolve over time. In this study, aerosol, precipitation, and melt water samples will be collected and analyzed for trace elements and isotopes in order to evaluate the impacts on the surface ocean and sea ice chemistry from natural and anthropogenic aerosols. Through this project, collected atmospheric samples from the Arctic will also be made available for distribution to the broader scientific community.

Effective start/end date10/1/149/30/20


  • National Science Foundation: $329,697.00


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