Vertical structure in chlorophyll profiles: influence on primary production in the Arctic Ocean

Bouman, HA, Jackson, T, Sathyendranath, S and Platt, T 2020 Vertical structure in chlorophyll profiles: influence on primary production in the Arctic Ocean. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 378 (2181). 20190351.

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Subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM) layers are prevalent throughout the Arctic Ocean under stratified conditions and are observed both in the wake of retreating sea ice and in thermally stratified waters. The importance of these layers on the overall productivity of Arctic pelagic ecosystems has been a source of debate. In this study, we consider the three principal factors that govern productivity within SCMs: the shape of the chlorophyll profile, the photophysiological characteristics of phytoplankton and the availability of light in the layer. Using the information on the biological and optical parameters describing the vertical structure of chlorophyll, phytoplankton absorption and photosynthesis–irradiance response curves, a spectrally resolved model of primary production is used to identify the set of conditions under which SCMs are important contributors to water-column productivity. Sensitivity analysis revealed systematic errors in the estimation of primary production when the vertical distribution of chlorophyll was not taken into account, with estimates of water-column production using a non-uniform profile being up to 97% higher than those computed using a uniform one. The relative errors were shown to be functions of the parameters describing the shape of the biomass profile and the light available at the SCM to support photosynthesis. Given that SCM productivity is believed to be largely supported by new nutrients, it is likely that the relative contribution of SCMs to new production would be significantly higher than that to gross primary production. We discuss the biogeochemical and ecological implications of these findings and the potential role of new ocean sensors and autonomous underwater vehicles in furthering the study of SCMs in such highly heterogeneous and remote marine ecosystems. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The changing Arctic Ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning'.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Heather A. Bouman e-mail:
Additional Keywords: Arctic Ocean, primary production, subsurface chlorophyll maximum
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 04 May 2021 11:25
Last Modified: 04 May 2021 11:25

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