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Quantifying the time lag between organic matter production and export in the surface ocean: implications for estimates of export efficiency

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 05:16 authored by Stange, P, Lennart BachLennart Bach, Le Moigne, FAC, Taucher, J, Boxhammer, T, Riebesell, U

The ocean's potential to export carbon to depth partly depends on the fraction of primary production (PP) sinking out of the euphotic zone (i.e., the e‐ratio). Measurements of PP and export flux are often performed simultaneously in the field, although there is a temporal delay between those parameters. Thus, resulting e‐ratio estimates often incorrectly assume an instantaneous downward export of PP to export flux. Evaluating results from four mesocosm studies, we find that peaks in organic matter sedimentation lag chlorophyll a peaks by 2 to 15 days. We discuss the implications of these time lags (TLs) for current e‐ratio estimates and evaluate potential controls of TL. Our analysis reveals a strong correlation between TL and the duration of chlorophyll a buildup, indicating a dependency of TL on plankton food web dynamics. This study is one step further toward time‐corrected e‐ratio estimates.


Publication title

Geophysical Research Letters








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Geophysical Union

Place of publication

2000 Florida Ave Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20009

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

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