Ecological Controls on Biogeochemical Fluxes in the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Long-Term Observations and Inverse Food Web Model Results

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:30 AM
Hugh W Ducklow, Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Division of Biology and Paleo Environment, Palisades, NY, United States, Sevrine F Sailley, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, United Kingdom, Sharon Elisabeth Stammerjohn, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, Grace K Saba, Rutgers University New Brunswick, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States and Scott C Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Sea ice in the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region is both highly variable and rapidly changing. In the Palmer Station region, the ice season duration has decreased by 92 days since 1978. The sea-ice changes affect ocean stratification and freshwater balance; and in turn impact every component of the polar marine ecosystem. Long-term observations from the WAP shelf region show a pattern of chlorophyll (Chl) variability with three to five years of negative Chl anomalies interrupted by one or two years of positive anomalies. Observations and results from an inverse food-web model show that these low and high Chl regimes differed significantly from each other, with high primary productivity and net community production (NCP) associated with the high Chl years and vice-versa. Gross primary production averaged 40 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the low Chl years and 100 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the high Chl years, with 30-40% going to NCP across regimes. Only the food web in the southern region in high Chl years was dominated by large phytoplankton and krill, whereas in in all other cases, foodwebs were dominated by small phytoplankton and microzooplankton. These contrasts were strongest between the northern, low Chl years and southern, high Chl years, consistent with earlier north to south observations of sea ice and ecosystem change along the WAP. The relative importance of major bulk carbon flows did not differ substantially between high and low Chl years. Both the northern/low Chl and southern/high Chl regimes had roughly equal proportions of NCP, although its composition reflected shifts in dominance by large versus small plankton. These results suggest that food webs dominated by smaller phytoplankton and grazers have pathways that funnel production into NCP, and likely, export.