Organic matter remineralization in marine sediments: A Pan-Arctic synthesis

Solveig Bourgeois* (Corresponding Author), Philippe Archambault, Ursula Witte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change in the Arctic is ongoing and causes drastic modification on the ecosystem functioning. In soft-bottom environments, organic matter remineralization is considered an important ecosystem function. Here we provide a large scale assessment of the current knowledge on the benthic organic matter remineralization and its potential response to climate change. Sediment oxygen demand (SOD) values (n = 1154), measured throughout the Arctic, were gathered from 30 publications and 16 databases and nutrient flux values, available in a far lesser extent (n < 80), were also compiled. Generalized additive models were used to estimate the influence of explanatory variables on benthic oxygen fluxes and for interpolating SOD to the whole Arctic region. This first pan-Arctic review of the distributions of SOD showed that oxygen fluxes strongly depended on water depth, i.e. followed the general trend observed for other regions, and also on the availability of labile organic matter. The continental shelves (representing ~50% of Arctic Ocean's total area) were characterized by the highest SOD values (10.5 ± 7.9 mmolO2 m-2 d-1) and differences among shelves were observed; SOD values in inflow, interior and outflow shelves were 11.8 ± 8.0, 6.2 ± 5.6 and 3.9 ± 3.5 mmolO2 m-2 d-1, respectively. Moreover, seasonal variation in SOD changed significantly among areas. The interpolation based on the best-fitted model showed high respiration in the inflow and interior shelves. In the inflow shelves, characterized by productive waters, benthic activities replenish bottom water with nutrients which may augment primary productivity, whereas sediments from the interior shelves, e.g. under the direct influence of the Mackenzie River, consume nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-213
Number of pages24
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Natural Environment Research Council (GrantNumber(s): NE/J023094/1; Grant recipient(s): Ursula Witte)
ArcticNet (GrantNumber(s): Hotspot biodiversity project; Grant recipient(s): Philippe Archambault)


  • sediment oxygen demand
  • nutrient fluxes
  • polar region
  • food supply
  • water depth


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