Characterization and variability of particle size distributions in Hudson Bay, Canada


Particle size distribution (PSD) plays a significant role in many aspects of aquatic ecosystems, including phytoplankton dynamics, sediment fluxes, and optical scattering from particulates. As of yet, little is known on the variability of particle size distribution in marine ecosystems. In this study, we investigated the PSD properties and variability in Hudson Bay based on measurements from a laser diffractometer (LISST-100X Type-B) in concert with biogeochemical parameters collected during summer 2010. Results show that most power-law fitted PSD slopes ranged from 2.5 to 4.5, covering nearly the entire range observed for natural waters. Offshore waters showed a predominance of smaller particles while near the coast, the effect of riverine inputs on PSD were apparent. Particulate inorganic matter contributed more to total suspended matter in coastal waters leading to lower PSD slopes than offshore. The depth distribution of PSD slopes shows that larger particles were associated with the pycnocline. Below the pycnocline, smaller particles dominated the spectra. A comparison between a PSD slope-based method to derive phytoplankton size class (PSC) and pigment-based derived PSC showed the two methods agreed relatively well. This study provides valuable baseline information on particle size properties and phytoplankton composition estimates in a sub-arctic environment subject to rapid environmental change.
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