Dissolved organic matter composition and bioavailability reflect ecosystem productivity in the Western Arctic Ocean
- 1Marine Science Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
- 2Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
Abstract. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total dissolved amino acids (TDAA) were measured in high (Chukchi Sea) and low (Beaufort Sea) productivity regions of the western Arctic Ocean to investigate the composition and bioavailability of dissolved organic matter (DOM). Concentrations and DOC-normalized yields of TDAA in Chukchi surface waters were relatively high, indicating an accumulation of bioavailable DOM. High concentrations and yields of TDAA were also observed in the upper halocline of slope and basin waters, indicating off-shelf transport of bioavailable DOM from the Chukchi Sea. In contrast, concentrations and yields of TDAA in Beaufort surface waters were relatively low, indicting DOM was of limited bioavailability. Concentrations and yields of TDAA in the upper halocline of slope and basin waters were also low, suggesting the Beaufort is not a major source of bioavailable DOM to slope and basin waters. In shelf waters of both systems, elevated concentrations and yields of TDAA were often observed in waters with higher chlorophyll concentrations and productivity. Surface concentrations of DOC were similar (p > 0.05) in the two systems despite the contrasting productivity, but concentrations and yields of TDAA were significantly higher (p < 0.0001) in the Chukchi than in the Beaufort. Unlike bulk DOC, TDAA concentrations and yields reflect ecosystem productivity in the western Arctic. The occurrence of elevated bioavailable DOM concentrations in the Chukchi Sea implies an uncoupling between the biological production and utilization of DOM and has important implications for sustaining heterotrophic microbial growth and diversity in oligotrophic waters of the central Arctic basins.