Continued increases in Arctic Ocean primary production
Dramatic declines in sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean in recent decades have the potential to fundamentally alter marine ecosystems. Here we investigate changes in sea ice between the years 1998 and 2012 at regional and basin scales and how these have impacted rates of phytoplankton net primary production (NPP). Annual NPP increased 30% over the Arctic Ocean during our study period, with the largest increases on the interior shelves and smaller increases on inflow shelves. Increased annual NPP was often, but not always, associated with reduced sea-ice extent and a longer phytoplankton growing season (fewer days of ice cover). Spatial patterns of increased annual NPP suggest that increased nutrient fluxes may also play an important role. Outflow shelves either exhibited no change in annual NPP during our study period or a significant decline, perhaps indicating that nutrients had been consumed by increased NPP farther upstream.