Environmental drivers of spring primary production in Hudson Bay

Ilka.Peeken [ at ] awi.de


Pertinent environmental factors influencing the microalgal bloom during sea-ice breakup in Hudson Bay were investigated in June 2018, producing the first observations of late spring primary production in the offshore waters of this vast inland sea. Phytoplankton production was found to commence at the onset of ice melt, with surface nutrient depletion leading to the formation of a subsurface chlorophyll maximum in the open waters of western Hudson Bay. Concurrently, the melting mobile ice cover in central Hudson Bay created favorable conditions for a diatom-dominated under-ice bloom, with photosynthetic characteristics and relatively high production confirming that phytoplankton cells were able to acclimate to increasing light levels. Lower mean values of phytoplankton production and total chlorophyll a (TChl a) concentration observed under the sea ice (414 mg C m–2 d–1 and 33.7 mg TChl a m–2) than those observed in open waters during the late bloom stage in the western region (460 mg C m–2 d–1 and 53.5 mgTChl a m–2) were attributed to reduced under-ice light levels and low surface concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (<2 mmol L–1) in central Hudson Bay. However, the highly abundant subice diatom, Melosira arctica, was estimated to contribute an additional 378 mg C m–2 d–1 to under-ice production in this region. Therefore, this subice algal bloom appears to play a similar role in the seasonally ice-covered sub-Arctic as in the central Arctic Ocean where it contributes significantly to local production. By updating historical total production estimates of Hudson Bay ranging between 21.5 and 39 g C m–2 yr–1 with our late spring observations including the novel observation of M. arctica, annual production was recalculated to be 72 g C m–2 yr–1, which equates to mean values for interior Arctic shelves.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1525/elementa.2020.00160

Cite as
Matthes, L. C. , Ehn, J. K. , Dalman, L. A. , Babb, D. G. , Peeken, I. , Harasyn, M. , Kirillov, S. , Lee, J. , Bélanger, S. , Tremblay, J. É. , Barber, D. G. and Mundy, C. J. (2021): Environmental drivers of spring primary production in Hudson Bay , Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 9 (1) . doi: 10.1525/elementa.2020.00160

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