Dataset: Alderkamp, A-C et al. (2012): Iron from melting glaciers fuels phytoplankton blooms in the Amundsen Sea (Southern Ocean): Phytoplankton characteristics and productivity

  • Anne-Carlijn Alderkamp (Creator)
  • Matthew M. Mills (Creator)
  • Gert L. van Dijken (Creator)
  • Patrick Laan (Creator)
  • Charles-Edouard Thuroczy (Creator)
  • L. J. A. Gerringa (Creator)
  • Hein J.W. de Baar (Creator)
  • Christipher D. Payne (Creator)
  • Ronald Visser (Creator)
  • Anita Buma (Creator)
  • Kevin R. Arrigo (Creator)



The phytoplankton community composition and productivity in waters of the Amundsen Sea and surrounding sea ice zone were characterized with respect to iron (Fe) input from melting glaciers. High Fe input from glaciers such as the Pine Island Glacier, and the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves resulted in dense phytoplankton blooms in surface waters of Pine Island Bay, Pine Island Polynya, and Amundsen Polynya. Phytoplankton biomass distribution was the opposite of the distribution of dissolved Fe (DFe), confirming the uptake of glacial DFe in surface waters by phytoplankton. Phytoplankton biomass in the polynyas ranged from 0.6 to 14 µg Chl a / L, with lower biomass at glacier sites where strong upwelling of Modified Circumpolar Deep Water from beneath glacier tongues was observed. Phytoplankton blooms in the polynyas were dominated by the haptophyte Phaeocystis antarctica, whereas the phytoplankton community in the sea ice zone was a mix of P. antarctica and diatoms, resembling the species distribution in the Ross Sea. Water column productivity based on photosynthesis versus irradiance characteristics averaged 3.00 g C /m**2/d in polynya sites, which was approximately twice as high as in the sea ice zone. The highest water column productivity was observed in the Pine Island Polynya, where both thermally and salinity stratified waters resulted in a shallow surface mixed layer with high phytoplankton biomass. In contrast, new production based on NO3 uptake was similar between different polynya sites, where a deeper UML in the weakly, thermally stratified Pine Island Bay resulted in deeper NO3 removal, thereby offsetting the lower productivity at the surface. These are the first in situ observations that confirm satellite observations of high phytoplankton biomass and productivity in the Amundsen Sea. Moreover, the high phytoplankton productivity as a result of glacial input of DFe is the first evidence that melting glaciers have the potential to increase phytoplankton productivity and thereby CO2 uptake, resulting in a small negative feedback to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

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Date made available2012
PublisherPANGAEA, Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science
Temporal coverage12-Jan-2009 - 17-Feb-2009
Date of data production12-Jan-2009 - 17-Feb-2009
Geographical coverageAmundsen Sea
Geospatial polygonLatitude: -73.500000 * Longitude: -107.500000

Keywords on Datasets

  • Amundsen Sea
  • Phytoplankton
  • iron
  • Fe
  • melting glaciers
  • Pine Island Glacier
  • Modified Circumpolar Deep Water
  • P. antarctica
  • NO3
  • CO2
  • Chlorophyll

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