Mills Matthew M.

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Matthew M.

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  • Article
    Late spring nitrate distributions beneath the ice-covered northeastern Chukchi Shelf
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-09-18) Arrigo, Kevin R. ; Mills, Matthew M. ; Van Dijken, Gert ; Lowry, Kate E. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Schlitzer, Reiner
    Measurements of late springtime nutrient concentrations in Arctic waters are relatively rare due to the extensive sea ice cover that makes sampling difficult. During the SUBICE (Study of Under-ice Blooms In the Chukchi Ecosystem) cruise in May–June 2014, an extensive survey of hydrography and prebloom concentrations of inorganic macronutrients, oxygen, particulate organic carbon and nitrogen, and chlorophyll a was conducted in the northeastern Chukchi Sea. Cold (<−1.5°C) winter water was prevalent throughout the study area, and the water column was weakly stratified. Nitrate (NO3−) concentration averaged 12.6 ± 1.92 μM in surface waters and 14.0 ± 1.91 μM near the bottom and was significantly correlated with salinity. The highest NO3− concentrations were associated with winter water within the Central Channel flow path. NO3− concentrations were much reduced near the northern shelf break within the upper halocline waters of the Canada Basin and along the eastern side of the shelf near the Alaskan coast. Net community production (NCP), estimated as the difference in depth-integrated NO3− content between spring (this study) and summer (historical), varied from 28 to 38 g C m−2 a−1. This is much lower than previous NCP estimates that used NO3− concentrations from the southeastern Bering Sea as a baseline. These results demonstrate the importance of using profiles of NO3− measured as close to the beginning of the spring bloom as possible when estimating local NCP. They also show that once the snow melts in spring, increased light transmission through the sea ice to the waters below the ice could fuel large phytoplankton blooms over a much wider area than previously known.
  • Preprint
    The influence of winter water on phytoplankton blooms in the Chukchi Sea
    ( 2015-06) Lowry, Kate E. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Mills, Matthew M. ; Brown, Zachary W. ; van Dijken, Gert L. ; Bates, Nicholas R. ; Arrigo, Kevin R.
    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.
  • Article
    Under-ice phytoplankton blooms inhibited by spring convective mixing in refreezing leads
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-01-07) Lowry, Kate E. ; Pickart, Robert S. ; Selz, Virginia ; Mills, Matthew M. ; Pacini, Astrid ; Lewis, Kate M. ; Joy-Warren, Hannah L. ; Nobre, Carolina ; van Dijken, Gert L. ; Grondin, Pierre-Luc ; Ferland, Joannie ; Arrigo, Kevin R.
    Spring phytoplankton growth in polar marine ecosystems is limited by light availability beneath ice-covered waters, particularly early in the season prior to snowmelt and melt pond formation. Leads of open water increase light transmission to the ice-covered ocean and are sites of air-sea exchange. We explore the role of leads in controlling phytoplankton bloom dynamics within the sea ice zone of the Arctic Ocean. Data are presented from spring measurements in the Chukchi Sea during the Study of Under-ice Blooms In the Chukchi Ecosystem (SUBICE) program in May and June 2014. We observed that fully consolidated sea ice supported modest under-ice blooms, while waters beneath sea ice with leads had significantly lower phytoplankton biomass, despite high nutrient availability. Through an analysis of hydrographic and biological properties, we attribute this counterintuitive finding to springtime convective mixing in refreezing leads of open water. Our results demonstrate that waters beneath loosely consolidated sea ice (84–95% ice concentration) had weak stratification and were frequently mixed below the critical depth (the depth at which depth-integrated production balances depth-integrated respiration). These findings are supported by theoretical model calculations of under-ice light, primary production, and critical depth at varied lead fractions. The model demonstrates that under-ice blooms can form even beneath snow-covered sea ice in the absence of mixing but not in more deeply mixed waters beneath sea ice with refreezing leads. Future estimates of primary production should account for these phytoplankton dynamics in ice-covered waters.
  • Article
    High concentrations and turnover rates of DMS, DMSP and DMSO in Antarctic sea ice
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-12-14) Asher, Elizabeth C. ; Dacey, John W. H. ; Mills, Matthew M. ; Arrigo, Kevin R. ; Tortell, Philippe D.
    The vast Antarctic sea-ice zone (SIZ) is a potentially significant source of the climate-active gas dimethylsulfide (DMS), yet few data are available on the concentrations and turnover rates of DMS and the related compounds dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) in sea ice environments. Here we present new measurements characterizing the spatial variability of DMS, DMSP, and DMSO concentrations across the Antarctic SIZ, and results from tracer experiments quantifying the production rates of DMS from various sources. We observed extremely high concentrations (>200 nM) and turnover rates (>100 nM d−1) of DMS in sea-ice brines, indicating intense cycling of DMS/P/O. Our results demonstrate a previously unrecognized role for DMSO reduction as a major pathway of DMS production in Antarctic sea ice.
  • Article
    Nitrogen limitation of the summer phytoplankton and heterotrophic prokaryote communities in the Chukchi Sea
    (Frontiers Media, 2018-10-15) Mills, Matthew M. ; Brown, Zachary W. ; Laney, Samuel R. ; Ortega-Retuerta, Eva ; Lowry, Kate E. ; van Dijken, Gert L. ; Arrigo, Kevin R.
    Major changes to Arctic marine ecosystems have resulted in longer growing seasons with increased phytoplankton production over larger areas. In the Chukchi Sea, the high productivity fuels intense benthic denitrification creating a nitrogen (N) deficit that is transported through the Arctic to the Atlantic Ocean, where it likely fuels N fixation. Given the rapid pace of environmental change and the potentially globally significant N deficit, we conducted experiments aimed at understanding phytoplankton and microbial N utilization in the Chukchi Sea. Ship-board experiments tested the effect of nitrate (NO3-) additions on both phytoplankton and heterotrophic prokaryote abundance, community composition, photophysiology, carbon fixation and NO3- uptake rates. Results support the critical role of NO3- in limiting summer phytoplankton communities to small cells with low production rates. NO3- additions increased particulate concentrations, abundance of large diatoms, and rates of carbon fixation and NO3- uptake by cells >1 μm. Increases in the quantum yield and electron turnover rate of photosystem II in +NO3- treatments suggested that phytoplankton in the ambient dissolved N environment were N starved and unable to build new, or repair damaged, reaction centers. While some increases in heterotrophic prokaryote abundance and production were noted with NO3- amendments, phytoplankton competition or grazers likely dampened these responses. Trends toward a warmer more stratified Chukchi Sea will likely enhance summer oligotrophic conditions and further N starve Chukchi Sea phytoplankton communities.