University Of Tasmania

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Annual cycle of fCO(2) under sea-ice and in open water in Prydz Bay, East Antarctica

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 11:51 authored by Gibson, JAE, Trull, T
The annual cycle of dissolved nutrients and the fugacity of CO2 (fCO2), calculated from the concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and pH, was studied over a 14-month long period (December 1993 to February 1995) at a site in Prydz Bay near Davis Station, Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica. Significant spring decreases in fCO2 began under the sea-ice in mid-October, when both water column and sea-ice algal activity resulted in the removal of nutrients and DIC and increased pH. Minimum fCO2 (< 100 μatm) and lowest nutrient and DIC concentrations occurred in December and January. The low summer fCO2 values were clearly the result of biological activity. The seasonal depletion of dissolved nitrate reached 85% in mid-summer when chlorophyll-a concentrations exceeded 15 mg m-3. Oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, calculated from the fugacity difference and daily wind speeds, averaged more than 30 mmol m-2 day-1 during the summer ice-free period. This exchange replaced approximately half of the DIC consumed by biological activity. Apparent nutrient utilisation ratios (C/N/P) were close to Redfield values. In autumn fCO2 began to rise, continuing slowly well into winter, and reaching a maximum close to modem atmospheric values between July and September. This increase can be attributed to a combination of local remineralisation of organic carbon in the water column and the steady increase in the mixing depth of the water column. At first glance, this suggests that air-sea equilibration occurred in winter despite the sea-ice cover, perhaps by horizontal circulation from regions outside the pack ice, or through openings in the ice. However, the persistent 15 to 20% undersaturation of dissolved oxygen throughout the winter suggests an alternate explanation. The late winter fCO2 level may represent a characteristic established by global circulation, so that as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, these Antarctic waters are in transition from being a winter-time source of CO2 to the atmosphere to becoming a sink. Our fCO2 observations emphasize the need to address seasonal variations in assessing Antarctic contributions to the oceanic control of atmospheric CO2.


Publication title

Marine Chemistry










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Science

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments

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