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Phytoplankton distribution in unusually low sea ice cover over the Pacific Arctic

P. Coupel, H. Y. Jin, M. Joo, R. Horner, H. A. Bouvet, V. Garçon, M.-A. Sicre, J.-C. Gascard, J. F. Chen, and D. Ruiz-Pino
Biogeosciences Discuss., 9, 2055-2093, 2012. DOI: 10.5194/bgd-9-2055-2012


A large part of the Pacific Arctic basin experiences ice-free conditions in summer as a result of sea ice cover steadily decreasing over the last decades. To evaluate the impact of ice retreat on the Arctic ecosystem, we investigated phytoplankton communities from coastal sites (Chukchi shelf) to northern deep basins (up to 86° N), during year 2008 of high melting. Pigment and taxonomy in situ data were acquired under different ice regime: the ice -free basins (IFB, 74°–77° N), the marginal ice zone (MIZ, 77°–80° N) and the heavy ice covered basins (HIB, >80° N). Our results suggest that extensive ice melting provided favorable conditions to chrysophytes and prymnesiophytes growth and more hinospitable to pico-sized prasinophytes and micro-sized dinoflagellates. Larger cell diatoms were less abundant in the IFB while dominant in the MIZ of the deep Canadian basin. Our data were compared to those obtained during more icy years, 1994 and to a lesser extent, 2002. Freshening, stratification, light and nutrient availability are discussed as possible causes for observed phytoplankton communities under high and low sea ice cover.


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