A Chlorophyll Biomass Time-Series for the Distributed Biological Observatory in the Context of Seasonal Sea Ice Declines in the Pacific Arctic Region
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A Chlorophyll Biomass Time-Series for the Distributed Biological Observatory in the Context of Seasonal Sea Ice Declines in the Pacific Arctic Region

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    Declines in seasonal sea ice in polar regions have stimulated projections of how primary production has shifted in response to greater light penetration over a longer open water season. Despite the limitations of remotely sensed observations in an often cloudy environment, remote sensing data provide strong indications that surface chlorophyll biomass has increased (since 2000) as sea ice has declined in the Pacific Arctic region. We present here shipboard measurements of chlorophyll-a that have been made annually in July since 2000 from the Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) stations in the Bering Strait region. This time series as well as shipboard observations made in other months since the late 1980s implicate complexities that intrude on a simple expectation that, as open water periods increase, the production and biomass of phytoplankton will increase predictably. These shipboard observations indicate that there have not been sharp increases in chlorophyll-a, for either maxima observed in the water column or integrated over the whole water column, at the DBO stations over a time-series extending for as long as 20 years coinciding with seasonal sea ice declines. On the other hand, biomass may be increasing in other months: we provide a shipboard confirmation of a fall bloom in October as wind mixing introduced nutrients back into the upper water column. The productive DBO stations may be at a high enough production already that additional enhancements in chlorophyll-a biomass should not be expected, but our time-series record does not exclude the possibility that additional enhanced production may be present in other areas outside the DBO station grid. These findings may also reflect limitations imposed by nutrient cycling and water column structure. The increasing freshwater component of waters flowing through the Bering Strait is likely associated with increased stratification that limits the potential change in biological production associated with decreases in seasonal sea ice persistence.
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    Geosciences 2022, 12, 307
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