Spring–summer net community production, new production, particle export and related water column biogeochemical processes in the marginal sea ice zone of the Western Antarctic Peninsula 2012–2014

Hugh W. Ducklow (Lead Author), Michael R. Stukel, Rachel Eveleth, Scott C. Doney, Tim Jickells, Oscar Schofield, Alex R. Baker, John Brindle, Rosie Chance, Nicolas Cassar

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New production (New P, the rate of net primary production (NPP) supported by exogenously supplied limiting nutrients) and net community production (NCP, gross primary production not consumed by community respiration) are closely related but mechanistically distinct processes. They set the carbon balance in the upper ocean and define an upper limit for export from the system. The relationships, relative magnitudes and variability of New P (from 15NO3– uptake), O2 : argon-based NCP and sinking particle export (based on the 238U : 234Th disequilibrium) are increasingly well documented but still not clearly understood. This is especially true in remote regions such as polar marginal ice zones. Here we present a 3-year dataset of simultaneous measurements made at approximately 50 stations along the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) continental shelf in midsummer (January) 2012–2014. Net seasonal-scale changes in water column inventories (0–150 m) of nitrate and iodide were also estimated at the same stations. The average daily rates based on inventory changes exceeded the shorter-term rate measurements. A major uncertainty in the relative magnitude of the inventory estimates is specifying the start of the growing season following sea-ice retreat. New P and NCP(O2) did not differ significantly. New P and NCP(O2) were significantly greater than sinking particle export from thorium-234. We suggest this is a persistent and systematic imbalance and that other processes such as vertical mixing and advection of suspended particles are important export pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170177
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A
Issue number2122
Early online date14 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018


  • Antarctica
  • ocean biogeochemistry
  • net community production
  • carbon export
  • thorium-234 deficiency

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