Sea ice is an important control on gas exchange and primary production in polar regions. We measured net oxygen production (NOP) and gross oxygen production (GOP) using near-continuous measurements of the O2/Ar gas ratio and discrete measurements of the triple isotopic composition of O2, during the transition from ice-covered to ice-free conditions, in Whycocomagh Bay, an estuary in the Bras d'Or Lake system in Nova Scotia, Canada. The volumetric gross oxygen production was 5.4+2.8-1.6 mmol O2 m-3 d-1, similar at the beginning and end of the time series, and likely peaked at the end of the ice melt period. Net oxygen production displayed more temporal variability and the system was on average net autotrophic during ice melt and net heterotrophic following the ice melt. We performed the first field-based dual tracer release experiment in icecovered water to quantify air-water gas exchange. The gas transfer velocity at > 90% ice cover was 6% of the rate for nearly ice-free conditions. Published studies have shown a wide range of results for gas transfer velocity in the presence of ice, and this study indicates that gas transfer through ice is much slower than the rate of gas transfer through open water. The results also indicate that both primary producers and heterotrophs are active in Whycocomagh Bay during spring while it is covered in ice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes