Nutrient and organic matter patterns across the Mackenzie River, estuary and shelf during the seasonal recession of sea-ice

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Authors: Emmerton, CA; Lesack, LFW; Vincent, WF
Year: 2008
Journal: Journal of Marine Systems 74: 741-755   Article Link (DOI)
Title: Nutrient and organic matter patterns across the Mackenzie River, estuary and shelf during the seasonal recession of sea-ice
Abstract: Suspended material, nutrients and organic matter in Mackenzie River water were tracked along a 300 km transect from Inuvik (Northwest Territories, Canada), across the estuarine salinity gradient in Kugmallit Bay, to offshore marine stations on the adjacent Mackenzie Shelf. All particulates measured (SPM, POC, PN, PP) declined by 87-95% across the salinity gradient and levels were generally below conservative mixing. Organic carbon content of suspended material decreased from 3.1% in the river to 1.7% in shelf surface waters while particulate C:N concurrently decreased from 17.1 to 8.6. Nitrate and silicate concentrations declined by more than 90% across the salinity gradient, with nitrate concentrations often below the conservative mixing line. Phosphate concentrations increased from 0.03 mu mol/L in the river to 0.27 mu mol/L over shelf waters, thereby changing the inorganic nutrient regime downstream from P to N limitation. Dissolved organic carbon decreased conservatively offshore while dissolved organic N and P persisted at high levels in the Mackenzie plume relative to river water, increasing 2.7 and 25.3 times respectively. A deep chlorophyll-a maximum was observed at two offshore stations and showed increases in most nutrients, particulates and organic matter relative to the rest of the water column. During river passage through the Mackenzie estuary, particulate matter, dissolved organic carbon and inorganic nutrients showed sedimentation, dilution and biological uptake patterns common to other arctic and non-arctic estuaries. Alternatively, inorganic content of particles increased offshore and dissolved organic N and P increased substantially over the shelf, reaching concentrations among the highest reported for the Arctic Ocean. These observations are consistent with the presence of a remnant ice-constrained ('stamukhi') lake from the freshet period and a slow flushing river plume constrained by sea-ice in close proximity to shore. Nutrient limitation in surface shelf waters during the ARDEX cruise contributed to the striking deep chlorophyll-a maximum at 21 m where phytoplankton communities congregated at the margin of nutrient-rich deep ocean waters. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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