Tracing the three Atlantic branches entering the Arctic Ocean with 129I and 236U

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans


John Wiley and Sons, Inc


School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research




Casacuberta, N., Christl, M., Vockenhuber, C., Wefing, A. M., Wacker, L., Masqué, P., ... & Rutgers van der Loeff, M. (2018). Tracing the three Atlantic branches entering the Arctic Ocean with 129I and 236U. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123(9), 6909-6921.

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This study presents the data on 129I and 236U concentrations in seawater samples and sea ice cores obtained during two expeditions to the Arctic Ocean that took place onboard R/V Polarstern (PS94) and R/V Lance (N‐ICE2015) in summer 2015. Carbon‐14 was also measured in the deep water samples from the Nansen, Amundsen, and Makarov Basins. The main goal was to investigate the distribution of 129I and 236U in a transect from the Norwegian Coast to the Makarov Basin to fully exploit the potential of combining 129I and 236U as a dual tracer to track Atlantic waters throughout the Arctic Ocean. The use of the 129I/236U and 236U/238U atom ratios allowed identifying a third Atlantic branch that enters the Arctic Ocean (the Arctic Shelf Break Branch) following the Norwegian Coastal Current that carries a larger proportion of the European reprocessing plants signal compared to Fram Strait Branch Water and Barents Sea Branch Water. The combination of 129I and 236U also allowed quantifying the different proportions of the La Hague stream, the Scottish stream, and Atlantic waters forming the three Atlantic branches of the Arctic Ocean Boundary Current. The results show that the 129I/236U atom ratio can now be used to identify the different Atlantic branches entering the Arctic Ocean. New input functions for 129I, 236U, and 129I/236U have also been described for each branch, which can be further used for calculation of transit time distributions of Atlantic waters.



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