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  1. Cooper, Lee W (Ed.)
    The toxic diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia is distributed from equatorial to polar regions and is comprised of >57 species, some capable of producing the neurotoxin domoic acid (DA). In the Pacific Arctic Region spanning the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas, DA is recognized as an emerging human and ecosystem health threat, yet little is known about the composition and distribution of Pseudo-nitzschia species in these waters. This investigation characterized Pseudo-nitzschia assemblages in samples collected in 2018 during summer (August) and fall (October-November) surveys as part of the Distributed Biological Observatory and Arctic Observing Network, encompassing a broad geographic range (57.8° to 73.0°N, -138.9° to -169.9°W) and spanning temperature (-1.79 to 11.7°C) and salinity (22.9 to 32.9) gradients associated with distinct water masses. Species were identified using a genus-specific Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA). Seventeen amplicons were observed; seven corresponded to temperate, sub-polar, or polar Pseudo-nitzschia species based on parallel sequencing efforts ( P . arctica , P . delicatissima , P . granii , P . obtusa , P . pungens , and two genotypes of P . seriata ), and one represented Fragilariopsis oceanica . During summer, particulate DA (pDA; 4.0 to 130.0 ng L -1 ) was observed in the Bering Strait and Chukchi Sea where P . obtusa was prevalent. In fall, pDA (3.3 to 111.8 ng L -1 ) occurred along the Beaufort Sea shelf coincident with one P . seriata genotype, and south of the Bering Strait in association with the other P . seriata genotype. Taxa were correlated with latitude, longitude, temperature, salinity, pDA, and/or chlorophyll a , and each had a distinct distribution pattern. The observation of DA in association with different species, seasons, geographic regions, and water masses underscores the significant risk of Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) and DA-poisoning in Alaska waters. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 22, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Barrow Canyon in the northeast Chukchi Sea is a critical choke point where Pacific‐origin water, heat, and nutrients enter the interior Arctic. While the flow through the canyon has been monitored for more than 20 years, questions remain regarding the dynamics by which the Pacific‐origin water is fluxed offshore, as well as what drives the variability. In 2018, two high‐resolution shipboard surveys of the canyon were carried out—one in summer and one in fall—to investigate the water mass distribution and velocity structure of the outflow. During the summer survey, high percentages of Pacific water (summer water + winter water) were present seaward of the canyon, associated with strong northward outflow from the canyon and a well‐developed westward‐flowing Chukchi Slope Current (CSC). By contrast, high percentages of Pacific water were confined to the canyon proper and outer Chukchi shelf during the late‐fall survey, at which time the canyon outflow and CSC were considerably weaker. These differences can be attributed to differences in wind forcing during the time period of two surveys. A cyclone‐like circulation was present in the canyon during both surveys, which was also evident in the satellite‐derived sea surface height anomaly field. We argue that this feature corresponds to an arrested topographic Rossby wave, generated as the outflow responds to the deepening bathymetry of the canyon. By applying a self‐organizing map analysis using the satellite altimeter data from 2001 to 2020, we demonstrate that such a cyclone‐like structure is a prevailing aspect of the canyon outflow.

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  3. The apparently obligate symbiosis between the diazotroph Candidatus Atelocyanobacterium thalassa (UCYN-A) and its haptophyte host, Braarudosphaera bigelowii , has recently been found to fix dinitrogen (N 2 ) in polar waters at rates (per cell) comparable to those observed in the tropical/subtropical oligotrophic ocean basins. This study presents the novel observation that this symbiosis increased in abundance during a wind-driven upwelling event along the Alaskan Beaufort shelfbreak. As upwelling relaxed, the relative abundance of B. bigelowii among eukaryotic phytoplankton increased most significantly in waters over the upper slope. As the host’s nitrogen demands are believed to be supplied primarily by UCYN-A, this response suggests that upwelling may enhance N 2 fixation as displaced coastal waters are advected offshore, potentially extending the duration of upwelling-induced phytoplankton blooms. Given that such events are projected to increase in intensity and number with ocean warming, upwelling-driven N 2 fixation as a feedback on climate merits investigation. 
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  4. 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. 
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  5. 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 inoculation 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. 
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