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Exploring ocean circulation and ventilation in the Central Arctic: A comprehensive study using multiple tracers

Marcel Scheiwiller


ETH Zurich

Lay summary

The world’s oceans are responding to anthropogenically induced climate change, with the Arctic Ocean standing out as one of the most rapidly changing regions. Several mechanisms contribute to this transformation, including the increasing influence of warm Atlantic Water in the Arctic, its connection to melting sea ice, and its impact on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Despite these critical factors, our understanding remains incomplete. To bridge this knowledge gap, we need to intensify measurement and modelling efforts. In pursuit of this goal, long-lived radionuclides – both natural and artificial (such as Iodine-129, Uranium-236, Carbon-14, and Argon-39) – serve as excellent tools. These radionuclides provide valuable insights into ocean circulation and ventilation processes. The upcoming ArcWatch/TransArc3 expedition (PS144) in 2024, aboard the German research vessel Polarstern, presents a unique opportunity to revisit the Arctic after TransArc2 (2015). Our project, titled ‘Exploring ocean circulation and ventilation in the Central Arctic: A comprehensive study using multiple tracers,’ focuses on investigating decadal changes in ocean circulation dynamics within the Central Arctic Ocean. Specifically, we aim to enhance our understanding of circulation pathways, timescales, and mixing processes in waters of Atlantic origin. Additionally, we seek to constrain ventilation timescales for the deep and old waters (below 2000 m). By doing so, we contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of circulation dynamics in the Arctic Ocean and uncover changes over the past decade.


Regional focus Arctic
Location Central Arctic Ocean (Nansen, Amundsen and Makarov basins)
Funded amount 16,750 CHF
Project dates 1st August 2024 – 31st October 2024
Category Polar Access Fund
ocean circulation, Arctic Climate Change, Transient Tracer, arctic ocean, polarstern expedition