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Temperature dependence of CO2-enhanced primary production in the European Arctic Ocean

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The Arctic Ocean is warming at two to three times the global rate1 and is perceived to be a bellwether for ocean acidification2,3. Increased CO2 concentrations are expected to have a fertilization effect on marine autotrophs4, and higher temperatures should lead to increased rates of planktonic primary production5. Yet, simultaneous assessment of warming and increased CO2 on primary production in the Arctic has not been conducted. Here we test the expectation that CO2-enhanced gross primary production (GPP) may be temperature dependent, using data from several oceanographic cruises and experiments from both spring and summer in the European sector of the Arctic Ocean. Results confirm that CO2 enhances GPP (by a factor of up to ten) over a range of 145–2,099 μatm; however, the greatest effects are observed only at lower temperatures and are constrained by nutrient and light availability to the spring period. The temperature dependence of CO2-enhanced primary production has significant implications for metabolic balance in a warmer, CO2-enriched Arctic Ocean in the future. In particular, it indicates that a twofold increase in primary production during the spring is likely in the Arctic.

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Figure 1: Gross primary production (GPP) and p CO 2 measured during four spring–summer cruises in the European Arctic Ocean.
Figure 2: GPP and p CO 2 measured during controlled temperature experiments.
Figure 3: Combined GPP and p CO 2 of both experiments and spring–summer cruises.

Change history

  • 08 September 2015

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, the following should have been included in the Acknowledgements: 'M.S.-M. was funded by Fundación 'La Caixa' PhD grants (Spain).' This error has been corrected in all versions of the Letter.


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This research was supported by the Arctic Tipping Points project (, funded by the Framework Program 7 of the European Union (no. 226248), the ATOS and ARCTICMET projects, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (no. POL2006-00550/CTM and CTM2011-15792-E, respectively), and the CARBONBRIDGE project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council (no. 226415). We thank M. A.-Rodriguez for providing p CO 2 estimates from cruises, P. Carrillo and A. Dorrsett for help with carbonate system analyses, R. Gutiérrez for chlorophyll a analyses, J. C. Alonso and S. Kristiansen for nutrient analyses, E. Halvorsen for logistical support, the captains and crews of the RV Viking Explorer and the RV Helmer Hanssen, and the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) for accommodation, laboratory space and technical support. J.M.H. was supported by a JAE fellowship (CSIC, Spain). M.S.-M. was funded by Fundación 'La Caixa' PhD grants (Spain).

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C.M.D., J.M.A., I.E.H., M.S.-M., M.R., P.W. and S.A. were responsible for experimental design. J.M.A. led and oversaw the summer experiment. M.S.-M. was responsible for running the spring experiment. M.C. was responsible for carbonate system measurements during the spring 2014 experiment and cruise, and E.M. and A.D. were responsible for 18O measurements. L.S.G.-C., M.S.-M. and A.R.-d.-G. contributed metabolism data from oceanographic cruises. J.M.H. was responsible for running the summer experiment as well as all data analysis and writing of the manuscript. All authors, especially C.M.D., contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to J. M. Holding.

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Holding, J., Duarte, C., Sanz-Martín, M. et al. Temperature dependence of CO2-enhanced primary production in the European Arctic Ocean. Nature Clim Change 5, 1079–1082 (2015).

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