Multi-year satellite records indicate an asymmetric spatial pattern in the summer bloom in the Northern Ross Sea, with the largest blooms over the shallows of Pennell Bank compared to Mawson Bank. In 2010–2011, high-resolution spatiotemporal in situ sampling focused on these two banks to better understand factors contributing to this pattern. Dissolved and particulate Fe profiles suggested similar surface water depletion of dissolved Fe on both banks. The surface sediments and velocity observations indicate a more energetic water column over Mawson Bank. Consequently, the surface mixed layer over Pennell Bank was more homogeneous and shallower. Over Mawson Bank we observed a thicker more homogeneous bottom boundary layer resulting from stronger tidal and sub-tidal currents. These stronger currents scour the seafloor resulting in sediments less likely to release additional sedimentary iron. Estimates of the quantum yield of photosynthesis and the initial slope of the photosynthesis-irradiance response were lower over Mawson Bank, indicating higher iron stress over Mawson Bank. Overall, the apparent additional sedimentary source of iron to, and longer surface residence time over Pennell Bank, as well as the reduced fluxes from the more isolated bottom mixed layer over Mawson Bank, sustain the observed asymmetric pattern across both banks.
Journal: Journal of marine systems