Interannual variability of surface and bottom sediment transport on the Laptev Sea shelf during summer
Sediment transport dynamics were studied during ice-free conditions under different atmospheric circulation regimes on the Laptev Sea shelf (Siberian Arctic). To study the interannual variability of suspended particulate matter (SPM) dynamics and their coupling with the variability in surface river water distribution on the Laptev Sea shelf, detailed oceanographic, optical (turbidity and Ocean Color satellite data), and hydrochemical (nutrients, SPM, stable oxygen isotopes) process studies were carried out continuously during the summers of 2007 and 2008. Thus, for the first time SPM and nutrient variations on the Laptev Sea shelf under different atmospheric forcing and the implications for the turbidity and transparency of the water column can be presented.
The data indicate a clear link between different surface distributions of riverine waters and the SPM transport dynamics within the entire water column. The summer of 2007 was dominated by shoreward winds and an eastward transport of riverine surface waters. The surface SPM concentration on the southeastern inner shelf was elevated, which led to decreased transmissivity and increased light absorption. Surface SPM concentrations in the central and northern Laptev Sea were comparatively low. However, the SPM transport and concentration within the bottom nepheloid layer increased considerably on the entire eastern shelf. The summer of 2008 was dominated by offshore winds and northward transport of the river plume. The surface SPM transport was enhanced and extended onto the mid-shelf, whereas the bottom SPM transport and concentration was diminished. This study suggests that the SPM concentration and transport, in both the surface and bottom nepheloid layers, are associated with the distribution of riverine surface waters which are linked to the atmospheric circulation patterns over the Laptev Sea and the adjacent Arctic Ocean during the open water season. A continuing trend toward shoreward winds, weaker stratification and higher SPM concentration throughout the water column might have severe consequences for the ecosystem on the Laptev Sea shelf.