Original Paper

Polar Biology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 196-210

First online:

The satellite-derived distribution of chlorophyll-a and its relation to ice cover, radiation and sea surface temperature in the Barents Sea

  • Bo QuAffiliated withSchool of Australian Environmental Studies, Griffith University Email author 
  • , Albert J. GabricAffiliated withSchool of Australian Environmental Studies, Griffith University
  • , Patricia A. MatraiAffiliated withBigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

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The response of oceanic phytoplankton to climate forcing in the Arctic Ocean has attracted increasing attention due to its special geographical position and potential susceptibility to global warming. Here, we examine the relationship between satellite-derived (sea-viewing wide field-of-view sensor, SeaWiFS) surface chlorophyll-a (CHL) distribution and climatic conditions in the Barents Sea (30–35°E, 70–80°N) for the period 1998–2002. We separately examined the regions north and south of the Polar Front (∼76°N). Although field data are rather limited, the satellite CHL distribution was generally consistent with cruise observations. The temporal and spatial distribution of CHL was strongly influenced by the light regime, mixed layer depth, wind speed and ice cover. Maximum CHL values were found in the marginal sea-ice zone (72–73°N) and not in the ice-free region further south (70–71°N). This indicates that melt-water is an important contributor to higher CHL production. The vernal phytoplankton bloom generally started in late March, reaching its peak in late April. A second, smaller CHL peak occurred regularly in late summer (September). Of the 5 years, 2002 had the highest CHL production in the southern region, likely due to earlier ice melting and stronger solar irradiance in spring and summer.