Variability in nutrient concentrations around Elephant Island, Antarctica, during 1991-1993

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Silva S., Nelson ; Helbling, E. Walter ; Villafañe, Virginia ; Amos, Anthony F. ; Holm-Hansen, Osmund (1995)

The nutrient status of the various water mass structures within a large sampling grid around Elephant Island are reported and the nutrient concentrations relative to jata from the physical and biological components of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Programme are discussed. Concentrations of silicic acid, nitrate and phosphate (Si/N/P) were measured in the upper water column during January-March of three successive years. Samples were taken from eleven depths at 17 stations in 1991, and at four depths at 144 stations in 1992 and 182 stations in 1993. There was considerable variability in the concentrations of all three nutrients within the study area, but silicic acid showed the greatest variance among the water masses present in the sampling grid. The ratios (Si/N/P) of the nutrient deficits (difference in winter and summer values) in the upper 100 m differed considerably in Drake Passage waters as compared to Bransfield Strait waters, with both nitrate and silicic acid showing the greatest variance. Nutrient deficits did not increase from January to February, indicating that rates of replenishment of nutrients to the euphotic zone by physical processes and/or biological regeneration were approximately equal to the rate of uptake and assimilation by phytoplankton during that time period. The seasonal deficits, however, were substantial. Estimates of daily rates of primary production based on these nutrient deficits were comparable to the rates as measured by radiocarbon for Drake Passage waters, but much smaller for Bransfield Strait waters.
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