Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Of all the Antarctic coastal polynyas, the Amundsen Sea Polynya is the most productive per unit area. Observations from the 2010–2011 Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE) revealed that both light and iron can limit the growth of phytoplankton (Phaeocystis antarctica), but how these controls manifest over the bloom season is poorly understood, especially with respect to their climate sensitivity. Using a 1‐D biogeochemical model, we examine the influence of light and iron limitation on the phytoplankton bloom and vertical carbon flux at 12 stations representing different bloom stages within the polynya. Model parameters are determined by Bayesian optimization and assimilation of ASPIRE observations. The model‐data fit is most sensitive to phytoplankton physiological parameters, which among all model parameters are best constrained by the optimization. We find that the 1‐D model captures the basic elements of the bloom observed during ASPIRE, despite some discrepancies between modeled and observed dissolved iron distributions. With this model, we explore the way iron availability, in combination with light availability, controlled the rise, peak, and decline of the bloom at the 12 stations. Modeled light limitation by self‐shading is very strong, but iron is drawn down as the bloom rises, becoming limiting in combination with light as the bloom declines. These model results mechanistically confirm the importance of climate‐sensitive controls like stratification and meltwater on phytoplankton bloom development and carbon export in this region.
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Oliver, H; St-Laurent, Pierre; Sherrell, RM; and Yager, PL, Modeling Iron and Light Controls on the Summer Phaeocystis antarctica Bloom in the Amundsen Sea Polynya (2019). Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 33(15), 570-596.