Publications

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2016
Kahru, M, Lee ZP, Mitchell BG, Nevison CD.  2016.  Effects of sea ice cover on satellite-detected primary production in the Arctic Ocean. Biology Letters. 12   10.1098/rsbl.2016.0223   AbstractWebsite

The influence of decreasing Arctic sea ice on net primary production (NPP) in the Arctic Ocean has been considered in multiple publications but is not well constrained owing to the potentially large errors in satellite algorithms. In particular, the Arctic Ocean is rich in coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) that interferes in the detection of chlorophyll a concentration of the standard algorithm, which is the primary input to NPP models. We used the quasianalytic algorithm (Lee et al. 2002 Appl. Opti. 41, 575525772. (doi: 10.1364/AO.41.005755)) that separates absorption by phytoplankton from absorption by CDOMand detrital matter. We merged satellite data from multiple satellite sensors and created a 19 year time series (1997-2015) of NPP. During this period, both the estimated annual total and the summer monthly maximum pan-Arctic NPP increased by about 47%. Positive monthly anomalies in NPP are highly correlated with positive anomalies in open water area during the summer months. Following the earlier ice retreat, the start of the high-productivity season has become earlier, e.g. at a mean rate of -3.0 d yr(-1) in the northern Barents Sea, and the length of the high-productivity period has increased from15 days in 1998 to 62 days in 2015. While in some areas, the termination of the productive season has been extended, owing to delayed ice formation, the termination has also become earlier in other areas, likely owing to limited nutrients.

2014
Cape, MR, Vernet M, Kahru M, Spreen G.  2014.  Polynya dynamics drive primary production in the Larsen A and B embayments following ice shelf collapse. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:572-594.   10.1002/2013jc009441   AbstractWebsite

The climate-driven collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves have opened up new regions of the coastal Antarctic to the influence of sea ice resulting in increases in seasonal primary production. In this study, passive microwave remote sensing of sea ice concentration and satellite imagery of ocean color are employed to quantify the magnitude of and variability in open water area and net primary productivity (NPP) in the Larsen embayments between 1997 and 2011. Numerical model output provides context to analyze atmospheric forcing on the coastal ocean. Following ice shelf disintegration the embayments function as coastal, sensible heat polynyas. The Larsen A and B are as productive as other Antarctic shelf regions, with seasonally averaged daily NPP rates reaching 1232 and 1127 mg C m(-2) d(-1) and annual rates reaching 200 and 184 g C m(-2) yr(-1), respectively. A persistent cross-shelf gradient in NPP is present with higher productivity rates offshore, contrasting with patterns observed along the West Antarctic Peninsula. Embayment productivity is intimately tied to sea ice dynamics, with large interannual variability in NPP rates driven by open water area and the timing of embayment opening. Opening of the embayment is linked to periods of positive Southern Annular Mode and stronger westerlies, which lead to the vertical deflection of warm, maritime air over the peninsula and down the leeward side causing increases in surface air temperature and wind velocity. High productivity in these new polynyas is likely to have ramifications for organic matter export and marine ecosystem evolution. Key Points Primary production and sea ice dynamics after ice shelf disintegration Larsen embayments function as productive coastal sensible heat polynyas High sea ice interannual variability affects total production