Radiocarbon Constraints on Carbon Release From the Antarctic Ice Sheet Into the Amundsen Sea Embayment

TitleRadiocarbon Constraints on Carbon Release From the Antarctic Ice Sheet Into the Amundsen Sea Embayment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsFang, L, Kim, M
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Date Published03/2023
KeywordsAntarctica, melting ice, organic carbon fluxes, radiocarbon

The Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica is experiencing rapid ice mass loss, resulting in biogeochemical changes via altered nutrient and organic matter supply. However, organic carbon released from melting ice has not yet been accurately quantified. In this paper, we have integrated new dissolved organic carbon (DOC) data obtained close to the melting Dotson Ice Shelf (DIS) with published radiocarbon (Δ14C) data on sinking and suspended particulate organic carbon (POC), sedimentary OC, DOC and dissolved inorganic carbon to quantify the effect of ice melt to the carbon cycle. Elevated DOC concentrations in deep water near the DIS indicate the transport of carbon sources from the ice shelf to the water column at a rate of 4.6 ± 2.0 × 1010 g C yr−1. Furthermore, Δ14C-DOC measurements suggest there is a possible dark chemoautotrophic production under the influence of meltwater input. The vertical profile of Δ14C in the sedimentary OC from the Sea Ice Zone and the edge of the DIS demonstrates the presence of aged organic carbon sources during warm episodes at ∼11.5 and 15.9 ka BP. Our study indicates that deep water is not only affected by OC discharge from meltwater but also by biological processes due to altered nutrient inputs. Limited data hampers a precise assessment of the influence of meltwater on the carbon cycle. Further sampling in front of the DIS will be beneficial to enhance our understanding of the role of Antarctic Ice Sheet melting in the downstream ecosystem.