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Seasonal variability of particle flux in the Weddell Sea and its relation to ice cover


In the Weddell Sea, primary production varies seasonally as a result of the solar cycle and the large-scale oscillation of the ice edge across much of its area. The annual ice transgression is the largest of any region on Earth1 and has a profound influence on the production and transportation of particulate matter. In order to clarify the flux, origin and mode of vertical transport of oceanic particles in the pelagic Weddell Sea, we deployed a multi-year sediment trap. The annual particle flux measured was the smallest yet observed in the world ocean, and showed extreme variability. Phytoplankton production is at least partly seeded by diatoms released from the melting of sea ice which had formed in the coastal area of the Antarctic continent. Phytoplankton production under the winter pack ice appears to be minimal.

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Fischer, G., Fütterer, D., Gersonde, R. et al. Seasonal variability of particle flux in the Weddell Sea and its relation to ice cover. Nature 335, 426–428 (1988).

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