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Antarctic Research Series



  • Ecology—Research—Antarctica—Antarctic Peninsula Region

Index Terms

  • 4853 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Photosynthesis
  • 4207 Oceanography: General: Arctic and Antarctic oceanography
  • 4815 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Ecosystems, structure and dynamics
  • 4855 Oceanography: Biological and Chemical: Plankton



Phytoplankton biomass and productivity in the western Antarctic Peninsula region

R. C. Smith, H. M. Dierssen, and M. Vernet

The Palmer Long-Teim Ecological Research (LTER) area, the area west of the Antarctic Peninsula, is an important component of the Antarctic marine ecosystem which is composed of a coastal and continental shelf zone (CCSZ) annually swept by the marginal ice zone (ME). This coastal component of the Antarctic marine ecosystem is influenced by meltwater from glaciers and icebergs, inclusive of areas providing some protection from wind and storms, potentially enriched by essential micronutrients from land, supportive of massive blooms that do, in fact, reduce macronutrients and supportive of relatively high levels of primary productivity. We present an overview of the temporal and spatial variability in phytoplankton biomass and primary productivity for the LTER area based on ship and satellite data collected in this region and summarize factors controlling primary productivity. If historical data are representative, considering the complex space/time variability of the area, then the average primary productivity of this region is of the order of a few hundred gC m−2 y−1 which, while about a factor of 5 lower, is roughly comparable to other productive coastal areas of the world's oceans.

Citation: Smith, R. C., H. M. Dierssen, and M. Vernet (1996), Phytoplankton biomass and productivity in the western Antarctic Peninsula region, in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarct. Res. Ser., vol. 70, edited by E. E. Hofmann, R. M. Ross, and L. B. Quetin, pp. 333–356, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/AR070p0333.

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