• Nitrogen utilization during spring phytoplankton bloom development in the southeast Bering Sea

      Sambrotto, Raymond Nicholas (1983-12)
      Interactions between a high latitude, continental shelf, spring phytoplankton bloom and water column physics and chemistry were studied using measured rates of nitrogen uptake. Peak bloom conditions commenced when the mixed layer shallowed and minimized respirational losses. Integrative light-mixing growth models were accurate during early bloom stages. An advection-diffusion model associated peak bloom nitrate uptake with pycnocline mixing rates of 2.1 m d * in an 18 m mixed layer. The accumulation of surface buoyancy was a reliable index of peak bloom temporal and spatial "patchiness" since mixing rates influenced both respirational losses and nutrient supply. Maximum nitrogen specific uptake rates (h r .- 1 ), unlike those of carbon, coincided with peak bloom conditions. Although species com positions among peak bloom periods were similar, particulate C/N ratios were not. Apparently, both intercellular factors and prevailing mixing conditions influence specific uptake rates and cell composition. A large proportion of new (nitrate) to total productivity was associated with the dominance of the early bloom forming diatoms in the mixed layer. In the absence of these net plankton the residual nanoplankton dominated community exhibited a greater dependence on regenerated nitrogen. Nitrate uptake averaged 700 mg-at m during the spring bloom and 1 g-at m-2 year-1 The yearly f factor was 0.40. Nitrogen uptake based carbon productivity was 188 g C m -2 year -1 A mass balance of the inorganic carbon system indicates that nitrate uptake alone cannot account for all the carbon leaving the surface layer. The correspondence between 1SN0~ uptake measurements and nitrate decreases suggests the diffusion of slope water into the middle shelf is slow. Large scale meteorological patterns may be responsible for the inter annual variability observed in production. Frequent May storm activity prolonged peak bloom periods, while calm conditions promoted extensive Chijl layers. The passage of atmospheric low pressure system s was also associated with the cross shelf "pumping" of water masses.