On the proportion of ballast versus non-ballast associated carbon export in the surface ocean

Le Moigne, Frédéric A.C.; Sanders, Richard J.; Villa-Alfageme, María; Martin, Adrian P.; Pabortsava, Katsiaryna; Planquette, Hélène; Morris, Paul J.; Thomalla, Sandy J.. 2012 On the proportion of ballast versus non-ballast associated carbon export in the surface ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 39 (15). L15610. 10.1029/2012GL052980

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The role of biominerals in driving carbon export from the surface ocean is unclear. We compiled surface particulate organic carbon (POC), and mineral ballast export fluxes from 55 different locations in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Substantial surface POC export accompanied by negligible mineral export was recorded implying that association with mineral phases is not a precondition for organic export to occur. The proportion of non-mineral associated sinking POC ranged from 0 to 80% and was highest in areas previously shown to be dominated by diatoms. This is consistent with previous estimates showing that transfer efficiency in such regions is low. However we propose that, rather than the low transfer efficiency arising from diatom blooms being inherently characterized by poorly packaged aggregates which are efficiently exported but which disintegrate readily in mid water, it is due to such environments having very high levels of unballasted organic C export.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1029/2012GL052980
Programmes: NOC Programmes
ISSN: 00948276
Date made live: 02 Oct 2012 13:15 +0 (UTC)

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