Spring bloom dynamics in a subarctic fjord influenced by tidewater outlet glaciers (Godthabsfjord, SW Greenland)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
, p. 1581-1592
University of Antwerp
In high-latitude fjord ecosystems, the spring bloom accounts for a major part of the annual primary production and thus provides a crucial energy supply to the marine food web. However, the environmental factors that control the timing and intensity of these spring blooms remain uncertain. In 2013, we studied the spring bloom dynamics in Godthabsfjord, a large fjord system adjacent to the Greenland Ice Sheet. Our surveys revealed that the spring bloom did not initiate in the inner stratified part of the fjord system but only started farther away from tidewater outlet glaciers. A combination of out-fjord winds and coastal inflows drove an upwelling in the inner part of the fjord during spring (April-May), which supplied nutrient-rich water to the surface layer. This surface water was subsequently transported out-fjord, and due to this circulation regime, the biomass accumulation of phytoplankton was displaced away from the glaciers. In late May, the upwelling weakened and the dominant wind direction changed, thus reversing the direction of the surface water transport. Warmer water was now transported toward the inner fjord, and a bloom was observed close to the glacier terminus. Overall, our findings imply that the timing, intensity, and location of the spring blooms in Godthabsfjord are controlled by a combination of upwelling strength and wind forcing. Together with sea ice cover, the hydrodynamic regime hence plays a crucial role in structuring food web dynamics of the fjord ecosystem.