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Deep ocean nutrients imply large latitudinal variation in particle transfer efficiency

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doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604414113
Authors:Weber, Thomas; Cram, Jacob A.; Leung, Shirley W.; DeVries, Timothy; Deutsch, Curtis
Author Affiliations:Primary:
University of Washington, School of Oceanography, Seattle, WA, United States
University of California at Santa Barbara, United States
Volume Title:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Source:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(31), p.8606-8611. Publisher: National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, United States. ISSN: 0027-8424
Publication Date:2016
Note:In English. 51 refs.; illus., incl. 1 table
Summary:The "transfer efficiency" of sinking organic particles through the mesopelagic zone and into the deep ocean is a critical determinant of the atmosphere-ocean partition of carbon dioxide (CO2). Our ability to detect large-scale spatial variations in transfer efficiency is limited by the scarcity and uncertainties of particle flux data. Here we reconstruct deep ocean particle fluxes by diagnosing the rate of nutrient accumulation along transport pathways in a data-constrained ocean circulation model. Combined with estimates of organic matter export from the surface, these diagnosed fluxes reveal a global pattern of transfer efficiency to 1,000 m that is high (≈25%) at high latitudes and low (≈5%) in subtropical gyres, with intermediate values in the tropics. This pattern is well correlated with spatial variations in phytoplankton community structure and the export of ballast minerals, which control the size and density of sinking particles. These findings accentuate the importance of high-latitude oceans in sequestering carbon over long timescales, and highlight potential impacts on remineralization depth as phytoplankton communities respond to a warming climate.
Subjects:Air-water interface; Biogenic processes; Carbon; Carbon cycle; Carbon dioxide; Climate; Climate change; Depth; Efficiency; Geochemical cycle; Latitude; Nutrients; Organic compounds; Particles; Phosphate ion; Phytoplankton; Plankton; Settling; Spatial variations; Storage; Subarctic regions; Subtropical environment; Tracers; Tropical environment; Water masses; Arctic Ocean; Atlantic Ocean; Indian Ocean; Pacific Ocean; Antarctic Ocean; Particle flux; Remineralization; Transfer efficiency
Record ID:841408-5
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2021 American Geosciences Institute.
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