Skip to main content
Book cover

pp 1–33Cite as

The Pacific-Atlantic Front in the East Siberian Sea of the Arctic Ocean

Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series


It is the purpose of this paper to introduce the reader to the various water masses that are found in the Arctic Ocean and describe how fronts, separating these water masses, are identified through the application of physical and biogeochemical measurements. Variations in the positions/alignments of these fronts help to describe changes in circulation patterns that impact local physical, chemical, and biological systems. In this chapter, the distributions of various physical and geochemical parameters representing summer conditions in the Arctic during 2015, a year of particularly good spatial coverage in terms of scientific observations, will be presented and analyzed with a focus on identifying the front separating Atlantic and Pacific halocline waters in the East Siberian Sea by qualitative means.


  • Arctic
  • Fronts
  • Halocline
  • NO parameter
  • Tracers
  • Water masses

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11



Apparent oxygen utilization


Atlantic water


Barents Sea Branch


Eastern Chukchi Summer Water


Fram Strait Branch


Lower halocline water


Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observation System




Dissolved oxygen




Pacific water


Pacific Winter Water




Silicic acid


Submersible ultraviolet nitrate analyzer


Transpolar current


Upper halocline water


Western Chukchi Summer Water


Potential temperature


  1. Carmack EC (2007) The alpha/beta ocean distinction: a perspective on freshwater fluxes, convection, nutrients and productivity in high-latitude seas. Deep-Sea Res II 54:2578–2598

    Google Scholar 

  2. Jakobsson M, Grantz A et al (2004) Bathymetry and physiography of the Arctic Ocean and its constituent seas. In: Stein R, Macdonald RW (eds) The Arctic Ocean organic carbon cycle: present and past. Springer, Berlin, pp 1–6

    Google Scholar 

  3. Woodgate RA, Weingartner TJ et al (2012) Observed increases in Bering Strait oceanic fluxes from the Pacific to the Arctic from 2001 to 2011 and their impacts on the Arctic Ocean water column. Geophys Res Lett 39(L24603).

  4. Serreze MC, Barrett AP et al (2006) The large-scale freshwater cycle of the Arctic. J Geophys Res 111.

  5. Haine TWN, Curry B et al (2015) Arctic freshwater export: status, mechanisms, and prospects. Global Planet Change 125:13–35

    Google Scholar 

  6. Alkire MB, Morison J et al (2017) A meteoric water budget for the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 122.

  7. Schlosser P, Bauch D et al (1994) Arctic river-runoff: mean residence time on the shelves and in the halocline. Deep-Sea Res I 41(7):1053–1068

    Google Scholar 

  8. Steele M, Boyd T (1998) Retreat of the cold halocline layer in the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 103:10419–10435

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bauch D, Schlosser P et al (1995) Freshwater balance and the sources of deep and bottom waters in the Arctic Ocean inferred from the distribution of H218O. Prog Oceanogr 35:53–80

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bauch D, Dmitrenko IA et al (2009) Exchange of Laptev Sea and Arctic Ocean halocline waters in response to atmospheric forcing. J Geophys Res 114(C05008).

  11. Guay CK, Falkner KK et al (2001) Wind-driven transport pathways for Eurasian Arctic river discharge. J Geophys Res 106:11469–11480

    Google Scholar 

  12. Dmitrenko I, Kirillov S et al (2005) Wind-driven summer surface hydrography of the eastern Siberian shelf. Geophys Res Lett 32.

  13. Morison J, Kwok R et al (2012) Changes in Arctic Ocean circulation and freshwater measure with ICESat altimetry, GRACE gravimetry, and in situ observations. Nature 481.

  14. Rudels B, Jones EP et al (2004) Atlantic sources of the Arctic Ocean surface and halocline waters. Polar Res 23(2):181–208

    Google Scholar 

  15. Shimada K, Itoh M et al (2005) Halocline structure in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 32.

  16. Itoh M, Carmack E et al (2007) Formation and spreading of Eurasian source oxygen-rich halocline water into the Canadian Basin in the Arctic Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 34.

  17. Rudels B, Anderson LG et al (1996) Formation and evolution of the surface mixed layer and halocline of the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 101:8807–8821

    Google Scholar 

  18. Alkire MB, Polyakov I et al (2017) Lower halocline water formation and modification, a comparison of physical and geochemical methods. Ocean Sci 13:983–995.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  19. Jones EP, Anderson LG (1986) On the origin of the chemical properties of the Arctic Ocean halocline. J Geophys Res 91:10759–10767

    Google Scholar 

  20. Salmon DK, McRoy CP (1994) Nutrient-based tracers in the Western Arctic: a new lower halocline water defined. In: Johannessen OM, Muench RD, Overland JE (eds) The polar oceans and their role in shaping the global environment. AGU, Washington, pp 47–61

    Google Scholar 

  21. Alkire MB, Falkner KK et al (2010) Sensor-based profiles of the NO parameter in the central Arctic and southern Canada Basin: new insights regarding the cold halocline. Deep-Sea Res I 57:1432–1443

    Google Scholar 

  22. Alkire MB, Rember R et al (2019) Discrepancy in the identification of the Atlantic/Pacific front in the central Arctic Ocean: NO versus nutrient relationships. Geophys Res Lett 46.

  23. Steele M, Morison J et al (2004) Circulation of summer Pacific halocline water in the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 109.

  24. Cooper LW, Whitledge TE et al (1997) The nutrient, salinity, and stable oxygen isotope composition of Bering and Chukchi Seas waters in and near the Bering Strait. J Geophys Res 102:12563–12573

    Google Scholar 

  25. Cooper LW, Cota GF et al (1999) Modification of NO, PO, and NO/PO during flow across the Bering and Chukchi shelves: implications for use as Arctic water mass tracers. J Geophys Res 104(C4):7827–7836

    Google Scholar 

  26. Aksenov Y, Ivanov VV et al (2011) The Arctic circumpolar boundary current. J Geophys Res 116(C09017).

  27. Pnyushkov A, Polyakov I et al (2015) Structure and variability of the boundary current in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Deep-Sea Res I 101(7):80–97.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  28. Weingartner T, Aagaard K et al (2005) Circulation on the north central Chukchi Sea shelf. Deep-Sea Res II 52:3150–3174

    Google Scholar 

  29. Shimada K, Carmack EC et al (2001) Varieties of shallow temperature maximum waters in the western Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 28(18):3441–3444

    Google Scholar 

  30. Nishino S, Shimada K et al (2008) East-west differences in water mass, nutrient, and chlorophyll a distribution in the sea ice reduction region of the western Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 113(C00A01).

  31. Nishino S, Itoh M et al (2013) Shoaling of the nutricline with an increase in near-freezing temperature water in the Makarov Basin. J Geophys Res 118(1–15).

  32. Taylor JR, Falkner KK et al (2003) Quantitative considerations of dissolved barium as a tracer in the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res:108.

  33. Falck E, Kattner G et al (2005) Disappearance of Pacific water in the northwestern Fram Strait. Geophys Res Lett 32(L14619).

  34. Alkire MB, Falkner KK et al (2007) The return of Pacific waters to the upper layers of the central Arctic Ocean. Deep-Sea Res I 54:1509–1529

    Google Scholar 

  35. Dodd PA, Rabe B et al (2012) The freshwater composition of the Fram Strait outflow derived from a decade of tracer measurements. J Geophys Res 117(C1105).

  36. Rabe B, Dodd PA et al (2013) Liquid export of Arctic freshwater components through the Fram Strait 1998-2011. Ocean Sci 9:91–109

    Google Scholar 

  37. Torres-Valdes S, Tsubouchi T et al (2013) Export of nutrients from the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 118:1625–1644

    Google Scholar 

  38. McLaughlin FA, Carmack EC (2010) Nutricline deepening in the Canada Basin, 2003-2009. Geophys Res Lett 37(L24602).

  39. Yamamoto-Kawai M, McLaughlin FA et al (2009) Aragonite undersaturation in the Arctic Ocean: effects of ocean acidification and sea ice melt. Science 326.

  40. Azetsu-Scott K, Clarke A et al (2010) Calcium carbonate saturation states in the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Labrador Sea. J Geophys Res 115.

  41. Fransson A, Chierici M et al (2013) Impact of sea-ice processes on the carbonate system and ocean acidification at the ice-water interface of the Amundsen Gulf. Arctic Ocean J Geophys Res 118.

  42. McLaughlin FA, Carmack E et al (1996) Physical and geochemical properties across the Atlantic/Pacific water mass front in the southern Canadian Basin. J Geophys Res 101:1183–1197

    Google Scholar 

  43. Morison J, Steele M et al (1998) Hydrography of the upper Arctic Ocean measured from the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Pargo. Deep-Sea Res I 45:15–38

    Google Scholar 

  44. Morison JH, Aagaard K et al (2000) Recent environmental changes in the Arctic: a review. Arctic 53:4

    Google Scholar 

  45. Morison J, Steele M et al (2006) The relaxation of central Arctic Ocean hydrography to pre-1990s climatology. Geophys Res Lett 33.

  46. Alkire MB, Morison J et al (2015) Variability and trends in the meteoric water, sea-ice melt, and Pacific water contributions to the central Arctic Ocean, 2000-2013. J Geophys Res 120:1573–1598

    Google Scholar 

  47. de Steur L, Steele M et al (2013) Hydrographic changes in the Lincoln Sea in the Arctic Ocean with focus on an upper ocean freshwater anomaly between 2007 and 2010. J Geophys Res 118:4699–4715.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  48. Jackson JM, Lique C et al (2014) On the waters upstream of Nares Strait, Arctic Ocean, from 1991 to 2012. Cont Shelf Res 73:83–96

    Google Scholar 

  49. Semiletov I, Dudarev O et al (2005) The east Siberian Sea as a transition zone between Pacific-derived waters and Arctic shelf waters. Geophys Res Lett 32(L10614).

  50. Rutgers van der Loeff MM, Key RM et al (1995) 228Ra as a tracer for shelf water in the Arctic Ocean. Deep-Sea Res II 42(6):1533–1553

    Google Scholar 

  51. Rigor IG, Wallace JM et al (2002) Response of sea ice to the Arctic oscillation. J Climate 15:2648–2663

    Google Scholar 

  52. Nitishinsky M, Anderson LG et al (2007) Inorganic carbon and nutrient fluxes on the Arctic Shelf. Cont Shelf Res 27:1584–1599

    Google Scholar 

  53. Bauch D, Rutgers van der Loeff MM et al (2011) Origin of freshwater and polynya water in the Arctic Ocean halocline in summer 2007. Prog Oceanogr 91(4):482–495.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  54. Ekwurzel B, Schlosser P et al (2001) River runoff, sea ice meltwater, and Pacific water distribution and mean residence times in the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 106:9075–9092

    Google Scholar 

  55. Newton R, Schlosser P et al (2013) Canadian Basin freshwater sources and changes: results from the 2005 Arctic Ocean section. J Geophys Res 118(2133–2154).

  56. Devol AH, Codispoti LA et al (1997) Summer and winter denitrification rates in western Arctic shelf sediments. Cont Shelf Res 17:1029–1050

    Google Scholar 

  57. Jones EP, Anderson LG et al (1998) Distribution of Atlantic and Pacific waters in the Arctic Ocean: implications for circulation. Geophys Res Lett 25(6):765–768

    Google Scholar 

  58. Yamamoto-Kawai M, Carmack E et al (2006) Nitrogen balance and Arctic throughflow. Nature 443.

  59. Yamamoto-Kawai M, McLaughlin FA et al (2008) Freshwater budgets of the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean, from salinity, δ18O, and nutrients. J Geophys Res 113.

  60. Broecker WS (1974) “NO”, a conservative water mass tracer. Earth Planet Sci Lett 23:100–107

    Google Scholar 

  61. Gruber N, Sarmiento JL (1997) Global patterns of marine nitrogen fixation and denitrification. Global Biogeochem Cycles 11(2):235–266

    Google Scholar 

  62. Anderson LG, Andersson PS et al (2013) Source and formation of the upper halocline of the Arctic Ocean. J Geophys Res 118(1–12).

  63. Polyakov IV, Timokhov LA et al (2010) Arctic Ocean warming contributes to reduced polar ice cap. J Phys Oceanogr 40:2743–2756.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  64. Kipp LE, Charette MA et al (2018) Increased fluxes of shelf-derived materials to the central Arctic Ocean. Sci Adv 4:eaao1302

    Google Scholar 

  65. Proshutinsky A, Krishfield R et al (2019) Analysis of the Beaufort Gyre freshwater content in 2003–2018. J Geophys Res 124.

  66. Woodgate RA, Aagaard K et al (2005) Pacific ventilation of the Arctic Ocean’s lower halocline by upwelling and diapycnal mixing over the continental margin. Geophys Res Lett 32.

  67. Ardyna M, Babin M et al (2014) Recent Arctic Ocean sea ice loss triggers novel fall phytoplankton blooms. Geophys Res Lett 41:6207–6212.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  68. Schlitzer R (2006) Ocean data view.

  69. Carmack EC, Polyakov IV et al (2015) Toward quantifying the increasing role of oceanic heat in sea ice loss in the new Arctic. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 96(12):2079–2105.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew B. Alkire .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Alkire, M.B., Rember, R., Polyakov, I. (2021). The Pacific-Atlantic Front in the East Siberian Sea of the Arctic Ocean. In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg