Sediment entrainment into sea ice and transport in the Transpolar Drift: a case study from the Laptev Sea (Winter 2011/12).

Wegner, Carolyn, Wittbrodt, K., Hölemann, Jens, Janout, M., Krumpen, T., Selyuzhenok, V., Novikhin, A., Polyakova, Y., Kryukova, I., Kassens, Heidemarie and Timokhov, L. A. (2017) Sediment entrainment into sea ice and transport in the Transpolar Drift: a case study from the Laptev Sea (Winter 2011/12). Continental Shelf Research, 141 . pp. 1-10. DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2017.04.010.

[thumbnail of Wegner.pdf] Text
Wegner.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (2MB) | Contact

Supplementary data:



• Observations show that formation of sediment-laden sea ice occurs in coastal polynyas in winter.
• Sea ice rafted sediments are a significant component of the Laptev Sea’s sediment budget.
• No observational evidence for sediment entrainment into sea ice in mid-shelf polynyas at water depth greater than 20 m.


Sea ice is an important vehicle for sediment transport in the Arctic Ocean. On the Laptev Sea shelf (Siberian Arctic) large volumes of sediment-laden sea ice are formed during freeze-up in autumn, then exported and transported across the Arctic Ocean into Fram Strait where it partly melts. The incorporated sediments are released, settle on the sea floor, and serve as a proxy for ice-transport in the Arctic Ocean on geological time scales. However, the formation process of sediment-laden ice in the source area has been scarcely observed.

Sediment-laden ice was sampled during a helicopter-based expedition to the Laptev Sea in March/April 2012. Sedimentological, biogeochemical and biological studies on the ice core as well as in the water column give insights into the formation process and, in combination with oceanographic process studies, on matter fluxes beneath the sea ice. Based on satellite images and ice drift back-trajectories the sediments were likely incorporated into the sea ice during a mid-winter coastal polynya near one of the main outlets of the Lena River, which is supported by the presence of abundant freshwater diatoms typical for the Lena River phytoplankton, and subsequently transported about 80 km northwards onto the shelf. Assuming ice growth of 12 to 19 cm during this period and mean suspended matter content in the newly formed ice of 91.9 mg l-1 suggests that a minimum sediment load of 8.4x104 t might have been incorporated into sea ice. Extrapolating these sediment loads for the entire Lena Delta region suggests that at least 65% of the estimated sediment loads which are incorporated during freeze-up, and up to 10% of the annually exported sediment load may be incorporated during an event such as described in this paper.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: sediment transport, sea ice, sea-ice algae, continental shelf, Arctic, Siberia, Laptev Sea
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: Laptev Sea System, Transdrift, CATS
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2016 08:01
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 09:10

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item