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Stable-isotope (18O/16O) Tracing of Fresh, Brackish, and Sea Ice in Multi-year Land-fast Sea Ice, Ellesmere Island,Canada

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Ice salinity and 18O/16O ratios were measured on 12 ice cores drilled from thick, multi-year land-fast sea ice (MLSI) off the north coast of Ellesmere Island, Canada. Fresh, brackish, and sea ice were identified in the ice cores using the 18O/16O ratios. Two cases are considered: case 1, which assumes that no isotopic fractionation occurs on freezing; and, case 2, which assumes that a maximum isotopic fractionation factor (a) of 1.003 applies. The amount of each ice type is variable among the cores, but overall the 12 cores comprise 29.6% brackish ice, 70.0% sea ice, and 0.4% fresh ice in case 1, and 42.3% brackish ice, 57.3% sea ice, and 0.4% fresh ice in case 2. The data suggest that time-dependent brackish sea-water stratification below the ice is quite common and is often associated with the inverted bottom topography. However, the stratification is not always confined to small, areally limited under-ice melt pools in inverted depressions, and neither is it a summer-only phenomenon. Brackish ice growth apparently occurs in a brackish water layer that in some instances underlies the ice sheet year-round. For both case 1 and case 2 the salinity distribution in brackish ice is positively skewed, with 50% of salinity values occurring in the range 0‐0.49‰. Sea-ice salinity values are more evenly distributed. In case 1, brackish ice has mean salinity and mean δ18O values of 0.66 and ‐19.9‰, respectively, compared to mean values of 1.88 and ‐6.5‰ for the sea ice. In case 2, brackish ice has mean salinity and mean S18O values of 0.75 and ‐18.1% compared to mean values of 2.03 and ‐5.2‰ for the sea ice. The salinity of brackish ice and sea ice, ice-growth mechanisms, and the inclusion of brine in the sub-structure are discussed briefly.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-0800, U.S.A. 2: (Department of Physics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada) 3: (Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-0800, U.S.A.) 4: (977 Stellyscross Road, Brentwood Bay, British Columbia V0S 1AO, Canada)

Publication date: January 1, 1989

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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