Coupling of biological and physical regimes across the Antarctic Polar Front as reflected by nitrogen production and recycling

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Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography
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Oceanographic samples were collected across the Antarctic Polar Front (APF) region in the vicinity of similar to 60 degreesS, 170 degreesW during the US JGOFS program from December 1997 to March 1998. This paper reports the uptake rates of new (nitrate) and regenerated (ammonium and urea) nitrogen measured by N-15 tracer techniques together with the levels of ammonium, urea-N and dissolved free amino acids (DFAAs) during December and mid-February-March. The APF was an important biological boundary, and in December rates of new (nitrate) uptake were greatest south of the APF, exceeding 10 mmol m(-2) d(-1) near the retreating ice edge. In February, nitrate uptake rates were an order of magnitude lower. Rates of ammonium uptake in both periods were greater in the warmer water north of the front. Nitrogen f-ratios varied from 0.50 to less than 0.05, with larger values associated with the > 5 mum size fraction at the ice edge and generally lower values north of the APF. Urea was an important nitrogen source north of the APF, and lowered f-ratios there by 22% on average when included as part of total nitrogen uptake. Urea uptake was less important south of the APF. Ammonium concentrations increased dramatically south of the APF later in the season, suggesting a system dominated by regeneration. Seasonal changes in the concentrations of regenerated organic compounds such as urea and DFAAs were less obvious, although DFAAs exhibited consistent maxima in the high flow regions of the APF. A mass balance based of ammonium fluxes suggests that nitrification was significant at locations south of the APF in February. In these nitrate-replete waters, light/mixing conditions in the surface water (the Sverdrup criterion) accounted for over 50% of the variance in nitrate uptake rates. The stability responsible for higher new production south of the APF is due both to the separation of this region from the maximum zonal wind field to the north as well as to melt-water contribution from the retreating ice field. Estimated new production and exportable carbon production exceeded 500 mmol nitrate m(-2) yr(-1) and 40 g C m(-2) yr(-1), respectively, south of the APF. Thus, new production in the marginal ice zone of the Southern Ocean rivals that in coastal systems and indicates that this is an important region for export production. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


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