The influence of winter water on phytoplankton blooms in the Chukchi Sea
Lowry, Kate E.
Pickart, Robert S.
Mills, Matthew M.
Brown, Zachary W.
van Dijken, Gert L.
Bates, Nicholas R.
Arrigo, Kevin R.
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The flow of nutrient-rich winter water (WW) through the Chukchi Sea plays an important and previously uncharacterized role in sustaining summer phytoplankton blooms. Using hydrographic and biogeochemical data collected as part of the ICESCAPE program (June-July 2010-11), we examined phytoplankton bloom dynamics in relation to the distribution and circulation of WW (defined as water with potential temperature ≤ -1.6°C) across the Chukchi shelf. Characterized by high concentrations of nitrate (mean: 12.3 ± 5.13 μmol L-1) that typically limits primary production in this region, WW was correlated with extremely high phytoplankton biomass, with mean chlorophyll a concentrations that were three-fold higher in WW (8.64 ± 9.75 μg L-1) than in adjacent warmer water (2.79 ± 5.58 μg L-1). Maximum chlorophyll a concentrations (~30 μg L-1) were typically positioned at the interface between nutrient-rich WW and shallower, warmer water with more light availability. Comparing satellite-based calculations of open water duration to phytoplankton biomass, nutrient concentrations, and oxygen saturation revealed widespread evidence of under-ice blooms prior to our sampling, with biogeochemical properties indicating that blooms had already terminated in many places where WW was no longer present. Our results suggest that summer phytoplankton blooms are sustained for a longer duration along the pathways of nutrient-rich WW and that biological hotspots in this region (e.g. the mouth of Barrow Canyon) are largely driven by the flow and confluence of these extremely productive pathways of WW that flow across the Chukchi shelf.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2015. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 118 (2015): 53-72, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.06.006.
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