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Evaluation of Under Sea-ice Phytoplankton Blooms in the Fully-Coupled, High-Resolution Regional Arctic 2 System Model 3
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  • Marina Frants,
  • Wieslaw Maslowski,
  • Robert Osinski,
  • Nicole Jeffery,
  • Meibing Jin,
  • Jaclyn Clement Kinney
Marina Frants
Naval Postgraduate School

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Wieslaw Maslowski
Naval Postgraduate School
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Robert Osinski
Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences
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Nicole Jeffery
Los Alamos National Laboratories
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Meibing Jin
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Jaclyn Clement Kinney
Naval Postgraduate School
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In July 2011, observations of a massive phytoplankton bloom in the ice-covered waters of the western Chukchi Sea raised questions about the extent and frequency of under sea- ice blooms and their contribution to the carbon budget in the Arctic Ocean. To address some of these questions, we use the fully-coupled, high-resolution Regional Arctic Sys- tem Model to simulate Arctic marine biogeochemistry over a thirty-year period. Our re- sults demonstrate the presence of massive under sea-ice blooms in the western Arctic not only in summer of 2011 but annually throughout the simulation period. In addition, sim- ilar blooms, yet of lower magnitude occur annually in the eastern Arctic. We investigate the constraints of nitrate concentration and photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) on the initiation, evolution and cessation of under sea-ice blooms. Our results show that increasing PAR reaching the ocean surface through the sea-ice in early summer, when the majority of ice-covered Arctic waters have sufficient surface nitrate levels, is criti- cal to bloom initiation. However, the duration and cessation of under sea-ice blooms is controlled by available nutrient concentrations as well as by the presence of sea-ice. Since modeled critical PAR level are consistently exceeded in summer only in the western Arc- tic, we therefore conclude that the eastern Arctic blooms shown in our simulations did not develop under sea ice, but were instead, at least in part, formed in open waters up- stream and subsequently advected by ocean currents beneath the sea ice.