Articles | Volume 12, issue 20
Research article
28 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 28 Oct 2015

Wind-driven interannual variability of sea ice algal production in the western Arctic Chukchi Borderland

E. Watanabe, J. Onodera, N. Harada, M. N. Aita, A. Ishida, and M. J. Kishi

Abstract. Seasonal and interannual variability in the biogenic particle sinking flux was recorded using multi-year bottom-tethered sediment trap mooring systems in the Northwind Abyssal Plain (Station NAP: 75° N, 162° W, 1975 m water depth) of the western Arctic Chukchi Borderland. Trapped particle flux at a median depth of 184 m had an obvious peak and dominance of sea ice-related diatom assemblages in August 2011. The observed particle flux was considerably suppressed throughout summer 2012. In the present study, the response of ice algal production and biomass to wind-driven changes in the physical environment was addressed using a pan-Arctic sea ice–ocean modeling approach. A sea ice ecosystem with ice algae was newly incorporated into the lower-trophic marine ecosystem model, which was previously coupled with a high-resolution (i.e., 5 km horizontal grid size) sea ice–ocean general circulation model. Seasonal model experiments covering 2-year mooring periods indicated that primary productivity of ice algae around the Chukchi Borderland depended on basin-scale wind patterns via various processes. Easterly winds in the southern part of a distinct Beaufort High supplied nutrient-rich water for euphotic zones of the NAP region via both surface Ekman transport of Chukchi shelf water and vertical turbulent mixing with underlying nutricline water in 2011. In contrast, northwesterly winds flowing in the northern part of an extended Siberian High transported oligotrophic water within the Beaufort Gyre circulation toward the NAP region in 2012. The modeled ice algal biomass during summer reflected the differences in nutrient distribution. The modeled sinking flux of particulate organic nitrogen (PON) was comparable with the time series obtained from sediment trap data in summer 2011. In contrast, lateral advection of ice algal patches of shelf origin during a great cyclone event may have caused a modeled PON flux bias in 2012. Sensitivity experiments revealed several uncertainties of model configurations of ice algal productivity, particle sinking speed, and grazing activities. Extending the year-long measurements is expected to help illustrate the more general features of ice-related biological processes in the Arctic Ocean.

Short summary
The current paper presented findings on seasonal and interannual variability of sea ice algal production and biomass over the western Arctic Chukchi Boderland using a pan-Arctic sea ice-ocean modeling approach. In particular, the relationship with wind pattern was focused on. Coupling of physical and biogeochemical analyses provided originality of this study.
Final-revised paper