Earth Syst. Sci. Data: CASCADE – The Circum-Arctic Sediment CArbon DatabasE

Jannik Martens (Stockholm Univ.) and numerous co-authors (including Michael L. Carroll (ApN), Salve Dahle (ApN), and Emmelie K.L. Åström (UiT)) have published the paper “CASCADE – The Circum-Arctic Sediment CArbon DatabasE” in Earth System Science Data.


Biogeochemical cycling in the semi-enclosed Arctic Ocean is strongly influenced by land–ocean transport of carbon and other elements and is vulnerable to environmental and climate changes. Sediments of the Arctic Ocean are an important part of biogeochemical cycling in the Arctic and provide the opportunity to study present and historical input and the fate of organic matter (e.g., through permafrost thawing).

Comprehensive sedimentary records are required to compare differences between the Arctic regions and to study Arctic biogeochemical budgets. To this end, the Circum-Arctic Sediment CArbon DatabasE (CASCADE) was established to curate data primarily on concentrations of organic carbon (OC) and OC isotopes (δ13C, 􏰀14C) yet also on total N (TN) as well as terrigenous biomarkers and other sediment geochemical and physical prop- erties. This new database builds on the published literature and earlier unpublished records through an extensive international community collaboration.

This paper describes the establishment, structure and current status of CASCADE. The first public version includes OC concentrations in surface sediments at 4244 oceanographic stations including 2317 with TN concentrations, 1555 with δ13C-OC values and 268 with 􏰀14C-OC values and 653 records with quantified ter- rigenous biomarkers (high-molecular-weight n-alkanes, n-alkanoic acids and lignin phenols). CASCADE also includes data from 326 sediment cores, retrieved by shallow box or multi-coring, deep gravity/piston coring, or sea-bottom drilling. The comprehensive dataset reveals large-scale features of both OC content and OC sources between the shelf sea recipients. This offers insight into release of pre-aged terrigenous OC to the East Siberian Arctic shelf and younger terrigenous OC to the Kara Sea. Circum-Arctic sediments thereby reveal patterns of terrestrial OC remobilization and provide clues about thawing of permafrost.

CASCADE enables synoptic analysis of OC in Arctic Ocean sediments and facilitates a wide array of future empirical and modeling studies of the Arctic carbon cycle. The database is openly and freely available online (; Martens et al., 2021), is provided in various machine-readable data formats (data tables, GIS shapefile, GIS raster), and also provides ways for contributing data for future CASCADE ver- sions. We will continuously update CASCADE with newly published and contributed data over the foreseeable future as part of the database management of the Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University.


J. Martens et al., CASCADE – The Circum-Arctic Sediment CArbon DatabasE, Earth System Science Data, 13, 2561–2572, 2021, DOI:   [intranet]