Organic matter composition and heterotrophic bacterial activity at declining summer sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean


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Eva-Maria.Noethig [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

The Arctic Ocean is highly susceptible to climate change as evidenced by rapid warming and the drastic loss of sea ice during summer. The consequences of these environmental changes for the microbial cycling of organic matter are largely unexplored. Here, we investigated the distribution and composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) along with heterotrophic bacterial activity in seawater and sea ice of the Eurasian Basin at the time of the record ice minimum in 2012. Bacteria in seawater were highly responsive to fresh organic matter and remineralized on average 55% of primary production in the upper mixed layer. Correlation analysis showed that the accumulation of dissolved combined carbohydrates (DCCHO) and dissolved amino acids (DAA), two major components of fresh organic matter, was related to the drawdown of nitrate. Nitrate‐depleted surface waters at stations adjacent to the Laptev Sea showed about 25% higher concentrations of DAA than stations adjacent to the Barents Sea and in the central Arctic basin. Carbohydrate concentration was the best predictor of heterotrophic bacterial activity in sea ice. In contrast, variability in sea‐ice bacterial biomass was largely driven by differences in ice thickness. This decoupling of bacterial biomass and activity may mitigate the negative effects of biomass loss due to ice melting on heterotrophic bacterial functions. Overall, our results reveal that changes in DOM production and inventories induced by sea‐ice loss have a high potential to enhance the bacterial remineralization of organic matter in seawater and sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.



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Article
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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
53241
DOI 10.1002/lno.11639

Cite as
Piontek, J. , Galgani, L. , Nöthig, E. M. , Peeken, I. and Engel, A. (2020): Organic matter composition and heterotrophic bacterial activity at declining summer sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean , Limnology and Oceanography, pp. 1-20 . doi: 10.1002/lno.11639


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