Two decades of inorganic carbon dynamics along the West Antarctic Peninsula Academic Article uri icon


  • <p><strong>Abstract.</strong> We present 20 years of seawater inorganic carbon measurements collected along the western shelf and slope of the Antarctic Peninsula. Water column observations from summertime cruises and seasonal surface underway <i>p</i>CO<sub>2</sub> measurements provide unique insights into the spatial, seasonal, and interannual variability in this dynamic system. Discrete measurements from depths > 2000 m align well with World Ocean Circulation Experiment observations across the time series and underline the consistency of the data set. Surface total alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon data showed large spatial gradients, with a concomitant wide range of &amp;Omega;<sub>arag</sub> (< 1 up to 3.9). This spatial variability was mainly driven by increasing influence of biological productivity towards the southern end of the sampling grid and meltwater input along the coast towards the northern end. Large inorganic carbon drawdown through biological production in summer caused high near-shore &amp;Omega;<sub>arag</sub> despite glacial and sea-ice meltwater input. In support of previous studies, we observed Redfield behavior of regional C / N nutrient utilization, while the C / P (80.5 ± 2.5) and N / P (11.7 ± 0.3) molar ratios were significantly lower than the Redfield elemental stoichiometric values. Seasonal salinity-based predictions of &amp;Omega;<sub>arag</sub> suggest that surface waters remained mostly supersaturated with regard to aragonite throughout the study. However, more than 20 % of the predictions for winters and springs between 1999 and 2013 resulted in &amp;Omega;<sub>arag</sub> < 1.2. Such low levels of &amp;Omega;<sub>arag</sub> may have implications for important organisms such as pteropods. Even though we did not detect any statistically significant long-term trends, the combination of on\\-going ocean acidification and freshwater input may soon induce more unfavorable conditions than the ecosystem experiences today.</p>

publication date

  • November 26, 2015