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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) present an emerging threat to human and ecosystem health in the Alaskan Arctic. Two HAB toxins are of concern in the region: saxitoxins (STXs), a family of compounds produced by the dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella, and domoic acid (DA), produced by multiple species in the diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia. These potent neurotoxins cause paralytic and amnesic shellfish poisoning, respectively, in humans, and can accumulate in marine organisms through food web transfer, causing illness and mortality among a suite of wildlife species. With pronounced warming in the Arctic, along with enhanced transport of cells from southern waters, there is significant potential for more frequent and larger HABs of both types. STXs and DA have been detected in the tissues of a range of marine organisms in the region, many of which are important food resources for local residents. The unique nature of the Alaskan Arctic, including difficult logistical access, lack of response infrastructure, and reliance of coastal populations on the noncommercial acquisition of marine resources for nutritional, cultural, and economic well-being, poses urgent and significant challenges as this region warms and the potential for impacts from HABs expands.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Among the organisms that spread into and flourish in Arctic waters with rising temperatures and sea ice loss are toxic algae, a group of harmful algal bloom species that produce potent biotoxins. Alexandrium catenella , a cyst-forming dinoflagellate that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning worldwide, has been a significant threat to human health in southeastern Alaska for centuries. It is known to be transported into Arctic regions in waters transiting northward through the Bering Strait, yet there is little recognition of this organism as a human health concern north of the Strait. Here, we describe an exceptionally large A. catenella benthic cyst bed and hydrographic conditions across the Chukchi Sea that support germination and development of recurrent, locally originating and self-seeding blooms. Two prominent cyst accumulation zones result from deposition promoted by weak circulation. Cyst concentrations are among the highest reported globally for this species, and the cyst bed is at least 6× larger in area than any other. These extraordinary accumulations are attributed to repeated inputs from advected southern blooms and to localized cyst formation and deposition. Over the past two decades, warming has likely increased the magnitude of the germination flux twofold and advanced the timing of cell inoculationmore »into the euphotic zone by 20 d. Conditions are also now favorable for bloom development in surface waters. The region is poised to support annually recurrent A. catenella blooms that are massive in scale, posing a significant and worrisome threat to public and ecosystem health in Alaskan Arctic communities where economies are subsistence based.« less
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  5. Abstract The dense outflow through Denmark Strait is the largest contributor to the lower limb of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, yet a description of the full velocity field across the strait remains incomplete. Here we analyze a set of 22 shipboard hydrographic–velocity sections occupied along the Látrabjarg transect at the Denmark Strait sill, obtained over the time period 1993–2018. The sections provide the first complete view of the kinematic components at the sill: the shelfbreak East Greenland Current (EGC), the combined flow of the separated EGC, and the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ), and the northward-flowing North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC). The total mean transport of overflow water is 3.54 ± 0.29 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 10 6 m 3 s −1 ), comparable to previous estimates. The dense overflow is partitioned in terms of water mass constituents and flow components. The mean transports of the two types of overflow water—Atlantic-origin Overflow Water and Arctic-origin Overflow Water—are comparable in Denmark Strait, while the merged NIJ–separated EGC transports 55% more water than the shelfbreak EGC. A significant degree of water mass exchange takes place between the branches as they converge in Denmark Strait. There are two dominant time-varying configurations of themore »flow that are characterized as a cyclonic state and a noncyclonic state. These appear to be wind-driven. A potential vorticity analysis indicates that the flow through Denmark Strait is subject to symmetric instability. This occurs at the top of the overflow layer, implying that the mixing/entrainment process that modifies the overflow water begins at the sill.« less