The effect of sea-ice dynamics on Net Community Production (NCP) at the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region

Zuchuan Li1, Nicolas Cassar1, Kuan Huang2, Hugh W Ducklow3 and Oscar Schofield4, (1)Duke University, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Durham, NC, United States, (2)Picarro, Inc., Santa Clara, CA, United States, (3)Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Division of Biology & Paleo Environment, Palisades, NY, United States, (4)Rutgers University, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, United States
The WAP in the Southern Ocean has experienced a decrease in sea-ice extent (~40%) over the last three decades, which has been associated with changes in the ecosystems. In this study, we examined the effect of sea-ice dynamics on the interannual variability of satellite-derived Annually-integrated NCP (ANCP). We derived a time series of NCP (1997-2014) using satellite observations of chlorophyll a concentration ([Chl]) and a regression between in situ [Chl] and O2/Ar-derived NCP measurements. Overall, our results are consistent with sea-ice dynamics influencing interannual ecosystem variability in the WAP region. ANCP displays an onshore to offshore gradient. Coastal/shelf regions and more specifically submarine canyons are up to eight times more productive than offshore regions. NCP peaks around January (November) when sea ice retreats and is consistently high (low) for the rest of the growing season in the shelf (southern and middle Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF)) region. We examined potential drivers of interannual variability in the ANCP through Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis. The EOF’s first mode explains ~50% of the variance, with High Temporal Variability (HTV) observed in the southern and middle SACCF regions. The first principal component of ANCP is significantly correlated with the day of sea-ice retreat (R=-0.58, p<0.05) in the HTV region, and climate indices of Southern Annular Mode (SAM) (R=0.63, p<0.01, in austral spring) and El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) (R=-0.52, p<0.05, in austral spring). Although the most obvious pathway by which day of sea-ice retreat influences NCP is through alleviation of light limitation, we found that the effect persists throughout the growing season, suggesting additional controls such as the influence of sea ice on stratification or iron availability.