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Distinguishing physical and biological controls on the carbon dynamics in a high-Arctic outlet strait
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  • Tonya Burgers,
  • Miller Lisa,
  • Søren Rysgaard,
  • John Mortensen,
  • Brent Else,
  • Tremblay Jean-Éric,
  • Tim Papakyriakou
Tonya Burgers
University of Manitoba

Corresponding Author:tonya.burgers@umanitoba.ca

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Miller Lisa
Institute of Ocean Sciences
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Søren Rysgaard
Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba
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John Mortensen
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
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Brent Else
University of Calgary
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Tremblay Jean-Éric
Laval University
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Tim Papakyriakou
University of Manitoba
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The water mass assembly of Nares Strait is variable, owing to fluctuating wind forcings over the Arctic Basins, and irregular northward flows from the West Greenland Current (WGC) in Baffin Bay. Here we characterize the physico-chemical properties of the water masses entering Nares Strait in August 2014, and we employ an extended optimum multi-parameter (OMP) water mass analysis to estimate the mixing fractions of predefined source water masses, and to distinguish the role of physical and biological processes in governing the distribution of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in Nares Strait. We show the first documented evidence of Siberian shelf waters in Nares Strait, along with a diluted upper halocline layer of partial Pacific-origin. These mixed-origin water masses appear to play an important role in driving a modest phytoplankton bloom in Kane Basin, leading to decreased surface pCO2 concentrations in Nares Strait. Although inorganic nitrogen was already limited in the surface mixed layer in northern Nares Strait, the unique properties of mixed Atlantic-Pacific water facilitated upwelling and nutrient supply to the surface. These observations suggest that the positioning of the Transpolar Drift, and hence the balance of Atlantic and Pacific water delivered to Nares Strait, is likely to play an important role in regional biological productivity and carbon uptake from the atmosphere. We also observed water masses from the WGC transported as far north as Kane Basin, contributing to relatively high pCO2 and low pH in the intermediate and deep water column of southern Nares Strait and northern Baffin Bay.