Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Spatio-temporal changes in ocean conditions and primary production in Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea

New publication by D.W. Krawczyk, A. Kryk, S. Juggins, A. Burmeister, C. Pearce, M.-S. Seidenkrantz, M. Moros, J. L. Høyer, A. Kuijpers, A. Witkowski

2021.01.11 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


Evaluating and understanding bio-environmental relationships at different spatial and temporal scales is important for accurately assessing marine productivity in relation to oceanographic conditions in changing Arctic ecosystems. In this paper, we compare four different bio-environmental datasets, in order to shed new light on the complex marine ecosystem of the Baffin Bay-Labrador Sea region, as well as the historical links between environmental changes and the ecosystem. Satellite dataset was used to describe the regional distribution of chlorophyll a, sea ice concentration (SIC), sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface salinity (SSS). Chlorophyll a data were also analysed together with shrimp assessment dataset to examine the relationship between marine pelagic productivity and bottom feeders off the Greenland coast. A microfossil dataset (diatom valves) from 57 surface sediment stations was used to describe diatom concentration and diversity across the study region. It was also used in combination with satellite data from the same sites to analyse species-environment relationships and develop a diatom-based transfer function for reconstructing past changes in SIC, SST and SSS. Subsequently, we applied the diatom transfer function on three short sediment cores from off SW and W Greenland spanning the last few centuries. A monitoring dataset of sea ice observations and instrumental measurements of water temperature and salinity, together with atmospheric data (air temperature and wind conditions) from Greenland, were used to develop a more complete picture of 20th and 21st century changes in ocean-climate conditions. Our comparative analyses show clear spatial distribution patterns of marine phytoplankton and identify key ecological groups linked to oceanic conditions. In addition, we find a significant correlation between the different trophic levels, culminating in a ‘productivity boom’ in 2001 CE. On a longer temporal scale, the transfer function reconstructions reveal a good correlation with the satellite, monitoring and observational trends, as well as a consistent, long-term decrease in sea ice linked to ocean-climate variability.


Arctic Research Centre