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On the role of tides and strong wind events in promoting summer primary production in the Barents Sea

By Vincent Le Fouest, Clare Postlethwaite, Miguel Angel Morales Maqueda, Simon Belanger and Marcel Babin


Tides and wind-driven mixing play a major role in promoting post-bloom productivity in subarctic shelf seas. Whether this is also true in the high Arctic remains unknown. This question is particularly relevant in a context of increasing Arctic Ocean stratification in response to global climatic change. We have used a three-dimensional ocean-sea ice-plankton ecosystem model to assess the contribution of tides and strong wind events to summer (June–August 2001) primary production in the Barents Sea. Tides are responsible for 20% (60% locally) of the post-bloom primary production above Svalbard Bank and east of the Kola Peninsula. By contrast, more than 9% of the primary production is due to winds faster than 8ms−1 in the central Barents Sea. Locally, this contribution reaches 25%. In the marginal ice zone, both tides and wind events have only a limited effect on primary production (<2%). Removing tides or winds faster than 8ms−1 promotes a regime more sustained by regenerated production with a f-ratio (i.e. the proportion of nitrate-based “new” primary production in the total primary production) that decreases by up to 26% (east of the Kola Peninsula) or 35% (central Barents Sea), respectively. When integrated over all Barents Sea sub-regions, tides and strong wind events account, respectively, for 6.8% (1.55TgC; 1TgC=1012gC) and 4.1% (0.93TgC) of the post-bloom primary production (22.6TgC). To put this in context, this contribution to summer primary production is equivalent to the spring bloom integrated over the Svalbard area. Tides and winds are significant drivers of summer plankton productivity in the Barents Se

Topics: Marine Sciences
Publisher: Pergamon/Elsevier
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.csr.2011.08.013
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