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Estimating carbon, silica and diatom export from a naturally fertilised phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean using PELAGRA: a novel drifting sediment trap

Salter, I.; Lampitt, R.S.; Sanders, R.; Poulton, A.; Kemp, A.E.S.; Boorman, B.; Saw, K.; Pearce, R.. 2007 Estimating carbon, silica and diatom export from a naturally fertilised phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean using PELAGRA: a novel drifting sediment trap. Deep-Sea Research II, 54 (18-20). 2233-2259. 10.1016/j.dsr2.2007.06.008

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Abstract/Summary

During the austral summer of 2004–2005, a large multi-disciplinary research cruise investigated the development and fate of a naturally iron-fertilised phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean (Crozet Plateau). As part of this extensive process study, a neutrally buoyant sediment trap (PELAGRA) was deployed to constrain the magnitude, composition, and variability of upper-ocean particle export. In the productive regime north of the plateau we observed depth-normalised (100-m) organic carbon fluxes between 11 and 440 mg C m−2 d−1, and in the HNLC control region to the south similarly normalised fluxes between 28 and 46 mg C m−2 d−1. Mass balance calculations indicate that the high levels of carbon export north of the plateau would need to be maintained for at least 30 days in order to account for estimated seasonal depletion of dissolved silicic acid in surface waters. This would imply that the flux of organic carbon is ≈15 g C m−2 for the period of the bloom north of the plateau. A range of export ratios (proportion of surface production lost to downward flux) was calculated using both contemporaneous and retrospective estimates of integrated production, and these highlight the temporal decoupling between production and export. Calculated export ratios were at their highest north of the plateau and correlate strongly with the selective export of large, heavily silicified diatoms, particularly Eucampia antarctica, relative to the surface community structure. By normalising the molar elemental ratios measured in the exported particles to the molar elemental ratios of the upper-ocean particle field we also observed a strong decoupling of Si:C and Si:N. This suggests that the decoupling of the global silica and carbon cycles, which is well known as a defining feature of the Southern Ocean, has its origins in the upper ocean.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.dsr2.2007.06.008
ISSN: 0967-0645
Additional Keywords: PELAGRA; Diatom flux; Eucampia antarctica; POC export; Iron-fertilisation; Southern Ocean
Date made live: 13 Nov 2007 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/149520

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