Based on remote-sensing data and an expedition during August-September 1993, the importance of the Laptev Sea as a source area for sediment-laden sea ice was studied. Ice-core analysis demonstrated the importance of dynamic ice-growth mechanisms as compared to the multi-year cover of the Arctic Basin. Ice-rafted sediment (IRS) was mostly associated with congealed frazil ice, although evidence for other entrainment mechanisms (anchor ice, entrainment into freshwater ice) was also found. Concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in patches of dirty ice averaged at 156 g m-3 (standard deviation ?? = 140 g m-3), with a background concentration of 5 g m-3. The potential for sediment entrainment over the broad, shallow Laptev Sea shelf during fall freeze-up was studied through analysis of remote-sensing data and weather-station records for the period 1979-1994. Freeze-up commences on 26 September (?? = 7 d) and is completed after 19 days (?? = 6 d). Meteorological conditions as well as ice extent prior to and during freeze-up vary considerably, the open-water area ranging between 107 x 103 and 447 x 103 km2. Ice motion and transport of IRS were derived from satellite imagery and drifting buoys for the period during and after the expedition (mean ice velocities of 0.04 and 0.05 m s-1, respectively). With a best-estimate sediment load of 16 t km-2 (ranging between 9 and 46 t km-2), sediment export from the eastern Laptev Sea amounts to 4 x 10-6 t yr-1, with extremes of 2 x 10-6 and 11 x 106 t yr-1. Implications for the sediment budget of the Laptev shelf, in particular with respect to riverine input of SPM, which may be of the same order of magnitude, are discussed.
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Sea-ice processes in the Laptev Sea and their importance for sediment export