Physical controls on the macrofaunal benthic biomass in Barrow Canyon, Chukchi Sea

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Pickart, Robert S.
Spall, Michael A.
Lin, Peigen
Bahr, Frank B.
McRaven, Leah T.
Arrigo, Kevin R.
Grebmeier, Jacqueline M.
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Barrow Canyon
Benthic fauna
Chukchi Sea
A region of exceptionally high macrofaunal benthic biomass exists in Barrow Canyon, implying a carbon export process that is locally concentrated. Here we offer an explanation for this benthic “hotspot” using shipboard data together with a set of dynamical equations. Repeat occupations of the Distributed Biological Observatory transect in Barrow Canyon reveal that when the northward flow is strong and the density front in the canyon is sharp, plumes of fluorescence and oxygen extend from the pycnocline to the seafloor in the vicinity of the hotspot. By solving the quasi-geostrophic omega equation with an analytical flow field fashioned after the observations, we diagnose the vertical velocity in the canyon. This reveals that, as the along stream flow converges into the canyon, it drives a secondary circulation cell with strong downwelling on the cyclonic side of the northward flow. The downwelling quickly advects material from the pycnocline to the seafloor in a vertical plume analogous to those seen in the observations. The plume occurs only when the phytoplankton reside in the pycnocline, since the near-surface vertical velocity is weak, also consistent with the observations. Using a wind-based proxy to represent the strength of the northward flow and hence the pumping, in conjunction with a satellite-derived phytoplankton source function, we construct a time series of carbon supply to the bottom of Barrow Canyon.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2021. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 126(5), (2021): e2020JC017091,
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Pickart, R. S., Spall, M. A., Lin, P., Bahr, F., McRaven, L. T., Arrigo, K. R., & Grebmeier, J. M. (2021). Physical controls on the macrofaunal benthic biomass in Barrow Canyon, Chukchi Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(5), e2020JC017091.
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