Radium inputs into the Arctic Ocean from rivers: a basin-wide estimate

Emma J. Bullock*, Lauren Kipp, Willard Moore, Kristina Brown, Paul J. Mann, Jorien E. Vonk, Nikita Zimov, Matthew A. Charette

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Radium isotopes have been used to trace nutrient, carbon, and trace metal fluxes inputs from ocean margins. However, these approaches require a full accounting of radium sources to the coastal ocean including rivers. Here, we aim to quantify river radium inputs into the Arctic Ocean for the first time for 226Ra and to refine the estimates for 228Ra. Using new and existing data, we find that the estimated combined (dissolved plus desorbed) annual 226Ra and 228Ra fluxes to the Arctic Ocean are [7.0 – 9.4] x 1014 dpm y-1 and [15-18] x 1014 dpm y-1, respectively. Of these totals, 44% and 60% of the river 226Ra and 228Ra, respectively are from suspended sediment desorption, which were estimated from laboratory incubation experiments. Using Ra isotope data from 20 major rivers around the world, we derived global annual 226Ra and 228Ra fluxes of [7.4 – 17] x 1015 and [15 – 27] x 1015 dpm y-1, respectively. As climate change spurs rapid Arctic warming, hydrological cycles are intensifying and coastal ice cover and permafrost are diminishing. These river radium inputs to the Arctic Ocean will serve as a valuable baseline as we attempt to understand the changes that warming temperatures are having on fluxes of biogeochemically important elements to the Arctic coastal zone.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JC018964
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number9
Early online date16 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


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