Abstract Nutrient regeneration in cold, high salinity bottom water has been studied in Storfjorden, southern Svalbard. This bottom water was a mixture of Atlantic water with brine produced by sea ice during its formation and aging. The concentrations of nutrients, oxygen and total carbonate in this high salinity water are used to estimate the decay rates of organic matter at the sediment-water interface in a cold water environment. The relative regeneration rates of the constituents from the soft parts of organic matter are found to be in good agreement with the literature values. Silicate from the hard parts is concluded to have a higher rate of regeneration relative to the other nutrients in cold water than in warm water. The regeneration rates are used to estimate the time required for the production of the organic decay components contributing to the nutrient maximum in the upper halocline of the Canada Basin in the Arctic Ocean, in order to estimate the residence time of this water. The estimated residence times given by the different components are approximately 10 years.