Barents Sea plankton production and controlling factors in a fluctuating climate

Sandø, A.B., Mousing, E.A., Budgell, W.P., Hjøllo, S.S., Skogen, M.D., Ådlandsvik, B. 2021: Barents Sea plankton production and controlling factors in a fluctuating climate. Journal of Climate. .

Summary: The Barents Sea and its marine ecosystem is exposed to many different processes related to the seasonal light variability, formation and melting of sea-ice, wind-induced mixing, and exchange of heat and nutrients with neighbouring ocean regions. A global model for the RCP4.5 scenario was downscaled, evaluated, and combined with a biophysical model to study how future variability and trends in temperature, sea-ice concentration, light, and wind-induced mixing potentially affect the lower trophic levels in the Barents Sea marine ecosystem. During the integration period (2010–2070), only a modest change in climate variables and biological production was found, compared to the inter-annual and decadal variability. The most prominent change was projected for the mid-2040s with a sudden decrease in biological production, largely controlled by covarying changes in heat inflow, wind, and sea-ice extent. The northernmost parts exhibited increased access to light during the productive season due to decreased sea-ice extent, leading to increased primary and secondary production in periods of low sea-ice concentrations. In the southern parts, variable access to nutrients as a function of wind-induced mixing and mixed layer depth were found to be the most dominating factors controlling variability in primary and secondary production.

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