Subjects: DOAJ:Earth and Environmental Sciences, Sediment trap, DOAJ:Earth Sciences, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1100/1105, QH540-549.5, QE1-996.5, Geology, QH501-531, Life, Ecology, Organic Chemistry, Sea ice, Carbon concentrating mechanisms, Phytoplankton, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1910, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2306, Carbon dioxide, Southern Ocean, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Evolution, Antarctica, DOAJ:Biology, QH301-705.5, Q, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1904, Global and Planetary Change, Diatoms, Science, Oceanography, Biochemistry, Organic matter, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1300/1303, DOAJ:Biology and Life Sciences, QH359-425, Carbon isotopes, Biology (General), Earth-Surface Processes, /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1600/1605
A high resolution time-series analysis of stable carbon isotopic signatures in particulate organic carbon (δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub>) and associated biogeochemical parameters in sea ice and surface waters provides an insight into the factors affecting δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> in the coastal western Antarctic Peninsula sea ice environment. The study covers two austral summer seasons in Ryder Bay, northern Marguerite Bay between 2004 and 2006. A shift in diatom species composition during the 2005/06 summer bloom to near-complete biomass dominance of <i>Proboscia inermis</i> is strongly correlated with a large ~10 ‰ negative isotopic shift in δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> that cannot be explained by a concurrent change in concentration or isotopic signature of CO<sub>2</sub>. We hypothesise that the δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> shift may be driven by the contrasting biochemical mechanisms and utilisation of carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) in different diatom species. Specifically, very low δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> in <i>P. inermis</i> may be caused by the lack of a CCM, whilst some diatom species abundant at times of higher δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> may employ CCMs. These short-lived yet pronounced negative δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> excursions drive a 4 ‰ decrease in the seasonal average δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> signal, which is transferred to sediment traps and core-top sediments and consequently has the potential for preservation in the sedimentary record. This 4 ‰ difference between seasons of contrasting sea ice conditions and upper water column stratification matches the full amplitude of glacial-interglacial Southern Ocean δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> variability and, as such, we invoke phytoplankton species changes as a potentially important factor influencing sedimentary δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub>. We also find significantly higher δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> in sea ice than surface waters, consistent with autotrophic carbon fixation in a semi-closed environment and possible contributions from post-production degradation, biological utilisation of HCO<sub>3</sub><sup>−</sup> and production of exopolymeric substances. This study demonstrates the importance of surface water diatom speciation effects and isotopically heavy sea ice-derived material for δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> in Antarctic coastal environments and underlying sediments, with consequences for the utility of diatom-based δ<sup>13</sup>C<sub>POC</sub> in the sedimentary record.