Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Climate Variability & Change

Continued climate warming in the Arctic will likely have profound consequences for many systems throughout the region, including declines in sea ice cover and shifts in the quantity and quality of river discharge. It is widely expected that these changes in sea ice cover and river discharge will in turn have significant impacts on ecosystem productivity in arctic shelf seas, with globally significant consequences for carbon cycling and food web dynamics. We propose a combination of field sampling and satellite remote sensing to investigate the potential impacts of sea ice decline and river discharge shifts on biological productivity in shelf seas of the Pacific Arctic Region, including how these drivers influence phytoplankton biomass in the water column and its ultimate transmission to the sea floor. We focus our proposed field efforts on the Chukchi/Beaufort Sea region, which is a critical crossroads for the Arctic. Not only is this region a globally important marine mammal migration pathway, but the Pacific water transiting the system is one of the largest point sources of nutrients, heat and freshwater to the Arctic Ocean. Furthermore, although adjacent, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas exhibit significantly different environmental characteristics, which will enable a better understanding of the interplay between sea ice decline, dissolved organic matter, non-algal particles, and light transmission in influencing biological productivity. In addition to focusing on the influence of river discharge, we propose to investigate how the timing of sea ice breakup and chlorophyll biomass production influences the strength of pelagic-benthic coupling, providing a unique opportunity to utilize upper ocean parameters that are able to be remotely sensed by satellites (e.g., sea ice and upper ocean phytoplankton variability) to give direct and critical insight into the spatial and temporal variability of benthic ecosystem dynamics in arctic shelf seas. Our field sampling in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas will take place during both late summer/autumn 2010 and late spring/summer 2011 in conjunction with the ship platform selected by NASA for this specific research opportunity. An opportunity for two additional field seasons (with ship time provided at no cost to this project) will take place in early summer 2010 and 2012 onboard the Chinese icebreaker RV Xuelong sampling in the northern Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea, and into the Arctic Ocean Basin, which will significantly expand both the spatial and temporal coverage of the fieldwork proposed here. Core measurement data critical to our proposed work (to be collected as part of the NASA-supported and RV Xuelong field measurement programs) include water column chlorophyll-a concentrations, inorganic nutrient concentrations, and measurements of primary production. Additional parameters to be measured by our research group include dissolved organic carbon, chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM), oxygen isotopes, total suspended solids, sediment community oxygen consumption, sediment chlorophyll-a, Be-7 assays of surface sediments, and a variety of optical profiles (including photosynthetically available radiation, UV irradiance, flash fluorometry, and 18 additional bands of radiance/irradiance within the 300-900nm range). All of these field measurements will be utilized to inform the remote sensing components of this research, including the calibration and validation of satellite-derived chlorophyll-a, CDOM, primary production, and turbidity measurements. Development of more accurate algorithms through our proposed field effort will allow for the temporal and spatial extrapolation of satellite-based measurements, resulting in an improved understanding of ecosystem dynamics in arctic shelf seas. Our proposed research will also provide valuable data for modeling studies as well as identifying key parameters for focused, long-term observational efforts to evaluate Arctic System change.

Project PI: Karen Frey/Clark University

Clark University Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: (508) 793-7209



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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 05, 2011


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