Spatial variability of phytoplankton, nutrients and new production estimates in the waters around Svalbard

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Abstract

Phytoplankton dynamics and carbon input into Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems were investigated around Svalbard, in summer 1991. Phytoplankton biomass, species composition and dissolved nutrient concentrations were analysed from water samples collected along seven transects. Phytoplankton biomass was low especially to the north (Chlorophyll-a mean 0.3 pg 1- '), where flagellates dominated the communities and only ice-diatoms were present. To the west, the phytoplankton composition was representative of a summer Atlantic community, in a post-bloom state. Zooplankton grazing, mainly by copepods, appeared to be the main control on biomass to the west and north of Svalbard.

In the Barents Sea (east of Svalbard), an ice edge bloom was observed (Chlorophyll-a max. 6.8 pgl-') and the ice edge receded at a rate of approximately 1 1 km day-'. The phytoplankton community was represented by marginal ice species, especially Phaeocystis poucherii and Chaeroceros socialis. South of the ice edge, Deep Chlorophyll Maxima (DCM) were observed, as surface waters became progressively nutrient-depleted. In these surface waters, the phytoplankton were predominantly auto- and heterotrophic flagellates.

Carbon production measurements revealed high net production (new and regenerated) to the north of the Barents Sea Polar Front (BSPF); it was especially high at the receding ice edge (reaching 1.44gC m-'day-'). To the south, a low level of production was maintained, mainly through regenerative processes.

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