Prof. Penny Vlahos publishes research on Boron in the Arctic

19 September 2022. DMS is proud to announce that Nature Communications Earth & Environment just published the latest research of Prof. Penny Vlahos and colleagues on novel measurements of boron in the marginal ice zones of the Arctic. These measurements were conducted on board the RV Sikuliaq along a transect across the Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea during May and June 2021.

The Arctic Ocean is experiencing a net loss of sea ice. Ice-free Septembers are predicted by 2050 with intensified seasonal melt and freshening. Accurate carbon dioxide uptake estimates rely on meticulous assessments of carbonate parameters including total alkalinity. The third largest contributor to oceanic alkalinity is boron (as borate ions). Boron has been shown to be conservative in open ocean systems, and the boron to salinity ratio (boron/salinity) is therefore used to account for boron alkalinity in lieu of in situ boron measurements. Here we report this ratio in the marginal ice zone of the Bering and Chukchi seas during late spring of 2021. We find considerable variation in born/salinity values in ice cores and brine, representing either excesses or deficits of boron relative to salinity. This variability should be considered when accounting for borate contributions to total alkalinity (up to 10 µmol kg−1) in low salinity melt regions.

Vlahos, P., Lee, K., Lee, CH., Barrett, L, and Juranek, L. (2022) Non-conservative nature of boron in Arctic marginal ice zones. Nature Communications Earth & Environment 3, 214

Prof. Penny Vlahos (right) with graduate students Lauren Barrett (left) and Emma Shipley (middle) on board the RV Sikuliaq

Boron concentrations in surface water samples across the transect