Marine Science Faculty Publications

New Production in the Northeast Water Polynya: 1993

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Arctic, polynya, production, nitrogen

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The Northeast Water Polynya has been suggested as acting as a sink for carbon, especially during the spring and summer when phytoplankton growth is active. During 1993 the polynya was sampled for the entire growing period (late May through mid-August) in order to more accurately assess the magnitude, controls and patterns of new and total (ammonium, nitrate and urea) nitrogen production. This represents the first assessment of new production throughout an entire season in the Arctic. We found that, in 1993, new production, based on 15N-tracer techniques and integrated over the euphotic zone, was 0.141 mmol N m−2 h−1 (0.361 g C m−2 d−1 when converted using observed C/N ratios). Measured f ratios averaged 0.65 and demonstrate that the system, to a great extent, was using nitrate as a nitrogen source. In general f ratios were greatest early in the season and minimal in mid-summer. Urea uptake was highly variable and contributed slightly less than ammonium to phytoplankton nitrogen demand. Nitrate uptake at stations with low (< 0.5μM) nitrate concentrations was significantly reduced, implying that nitrate concentrations limited phytoplankton growth late in the growing season. Long-term new production rates calculated from nutrient depletion patterns from the polynya as a whole as well as a time-series constructed from a single location were ca. 0.144-0.281 g C m−2 d−1. The relationship between new production as measured by incubations and nutrient depletion budgets suggests that phytoplankton growth is the dominant factor influencing the nitrogen budget of the polynya. The amount of material available for removal from the euphotic zone is limited and constrains the degree to which the polynya can act as a regional carbon sink.

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Journal of Marine Systems, v. 10, issues 1-4, p. 199-209