Hydrographic Changes in Nares Strait (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) in Recent Decades Based on δ18O Profiles of Bivalve Shells


  • Marta E. Torres
  • Daniela Zima
  • Kelly K. Falkner
  • Robie W. Macdonald
  • Mary O'Brien
  • Bernd R. Schöne
  • Tim Siferd




Arctic, Nares Strait, bivalves, time series, oxygen isotopes, salinity, fresh water


Nares Strait is one of three main passages of the Canadian Archipelago that channel relatively fresh seawater from the Arctic Ocean through Baffin Bay to the Labrador Sea. Oxygen isotopic profiles along the growth axis of bivalve shells, collected live over the 5 – 30 m depth range from the Greenland and Ellesmere Island sides of the strait, were used to reconstruct changes in the hydrography of the region over the past century. The variability in oxygen isotope ratios is mainly attributed to variations in salinity and suggests that the northern end of Nares Strait has been experiencing an increase in freshwater runoff since the mid 1980s. The recent changes are most pronounced at the northern end of the strait and diminish toward the south, a pattern consistent with proximity to the apparently freshening Arctic Ocean source in the north and mixing with Baffin Bay waters as the water progresses southward. This increasing freshwater signal may reflect changes in circulation and ice formation that favor an increased flow of relatively fresh waters from the Arctic Ocean into Nares Strait.