Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: A better understanding of recent changes of the CO2 system in the Western Arctic Ocean via field measurements from the summer 2014 CHINARE cruise (Award# 1304337)

PI: Cai, Wei-Jun (
Phone: (302) 831.2839 
Institute/Department: U of Delaware, College of Marine and Earth Studies 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ANS
Program Manager: Dr. Henrietta Edmonds ( )
Discipline(s): | Oceanography\Carbon Cycle | Oceanography\Ocean Biogeochemistry |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
This project continues a successful collaboration between U.S. and Chinese scientists to study the exchange of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the surface waters of the Arctic Ocean. It involves the collection of high resolution underway pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) data combined with discrete samples of water column pH, total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), alkalinity, calcium, nutrients, and oxygen during the Chinese Arctic Research Expedition (CHINARE) cruise in summer 2014. Together with historical data, the results will be used to constrain the variability of sea surface pCO2, air-to-sea CO2 flux, and their changes over time and to understand the underlying carbon cycling control mechanisms in the Western Arctic Ocean. The investigator hypothesizes that 1) sea surface pCO2 is highly variable in the Western Arctic Ocean and is controlled by multiple parameters that are climate-sensitive, and that current knowledge is insufficient to draw reliable conclusions regarding air-sea CO2 flux, controlling mechanisms and prediction of future changes, 2) high biological production (and CO2/DIC removal) areas have expanded from the southern areas in 1990s and early 2000s to the northern basins today along with the retreat of sea ice, and 3) riverine inorganic and organic carbon inputs have increased and they play an important role in controlling sea surface pCO2 and thus the net air-sea CO2 exchange flux in the western Arctic Ocean. This project will continue an active international collaboration and culture a Chinese Arctic carbon research team through fieldwork and data synthesis activities. The collaboration will incorporate these data into several U.S. and international databases. The project also directly supports a Ph.D. student.

Logistics Summary:
This project continues work begun under NSF grant 0909330. Under the previous grant, it was found, for the first time, that sea surface pCO2 was unexpectedly high in the southern Canada Basin at ~75ºN (it was nearly ice-free) but quite low in the northern basin areas (77-83ºN) where sea-ice cover was heavy. However, the exact reason for the high pCO2 in the south basin areas and whether or not this phenomenon is transient are still not certain. Furthermore, it is not known whether the newly exposed northern basin areas are a sustainable sink of CO2 with enhanced biological production. In 2014, two team members will travel to Shanghai, China to sail aboard the Chinese icebreaker Xue-Long to collect data through a combination of high resolution underway partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) data with discrete samples of water column pH, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), 13C-DIC, and Ca2+ as well as nutrients and AOU data during the Chinese National Arctic Research Expedition (CHINARE) cruise in summer 2014. CHINARE cruises generally cover the Western Arctic Ocean between 140 180 W and from the Bering Sea to the highest possible latitude. The cruise tracks and stations for summer 2014 are expected to be similar to those of 2008 (reached 85ºN) and 2010 (reached 88ºN) and the goal is to reach as close as possible to the North Pole. Researchers will collect water samples during the CHINARE in summer 2014. The underway (previously installed on the vessel) pCO2 system is fully automated but the PI’s technical personnel will be on board. The PI will also travel to Shanghai, before and after the cruise, for coordination and synthesis.

The costs associated with this project will be paid by the PI through the grant. Cost aboard the ship will be covered by the Xue-Long.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2014Arctic Ocean and Seas - Bering Sea07 / 01 / 2014 09 / 10 / 20142
2014Arctic Ocean and Seas - Canada Basin07 / 01 / 2014 09 / 10 / 20142
2014Arctic Ocean and Seas - Chukchi Sea07 / 01 / 2014 09 / 10 / 20142

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