The export of deep water from the Arctic to the Atlantic contributes to the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water, a crucial component of global ocean circulation. Records of protactinium-231 (231Pa) and thorium-230 (230Th) in Arctic sediments can provide a measure of this export, but well-constrained sedimentary budgets of these isotopes have been difficult to achieve in the Arctic Ocean. Previous studies revealed a deficit of 231Pa in central Arctic sediments, implying that some 231Pa is either transported to the margins, where it may be removed in areas of higher particle flux, or exported from the Arctic via deep water advection. Here we investigate this “missing sink” of Arctic 231Pa and find moderately increased 231Pa deposition along Arctic margins. Nonetheless, we determine that most 231Pa missing from the central basin must be lost via advection into the Nordic Seas, requiring deep water advection of 1.1 – 6.4 Sv through Fram Strait.
Kipp, L.E., McManus, J.F. & Kienast, M. Radioisotope constraints of Arctic deep water export to the North Atlantic. Nat Commun 12, 3658 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23877-4
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