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Keywords:

  • Arctic Ocean;
  • bio-physical modelling;
  • climate change;
  • ice algae;
  • ocean circulation;
  • primary production

[1] The contribution of sea-ice biology and impact of Arctic warming on overall primary production in a Pan-Arctic ocean model are investigated in a 57 year (1950–2006) simulation at coarse resolution using a simple ecosystem model. The ice biology model formally represents the growth and aggregation of micro algae into an ice-water interface, nearly undisturbed by surface mixed layer dynamics. The importance of this so-called ‘ice-algae’ stems from their significant contribution to the total primary production (up to 50% depending on the locations, according to observations described in Gosselin et al. (1997). Simple 1D tests reveal that, depending on their initial biomass and light availability, ice algae can affect the temporal variation of surface nutrients, while they marginally impact the total primary production, or the long term position of the nutricline. The sea-ice primary production is found in the model to be as high as 40% of the total primary production depending on the location and 7.5% for the whole Arctic. The modeled primary production of the ocean is negatively correlated to the September ice cover whereas the production in the ice is more weakly positively correlated. Because of the negative correlation between sea ice cover and pelagic primary production, the short term response to the continuing ice decline will be an increased total production as seen in the model, while the ice algae production would decline.