Remote assessment of the fate of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean sea-ice zone
In the Southern Ocean, large-scale phytoplankton blooms occur in open water and the sea-ice zone (SIZ). These blooms have a range of fates including physical advection, downward carbon export, or grazing. Here, we determine the magnitude, timing and spatial trends of the biogeochemical (export) and ecological (foodwebs) fates of phytoplankton, based on seven BGC-Argo floats spanning three years across the SIZ. We calculate loss terms using the production of chlorophyll—based on nitrate depletion—compared with measured chlorophyll. Export losses are estimated using conspicuous chlorophyll pulses at depth. By subtracting export losses, we calculate grazing-mediated losses. Herbivory accounts for ~90% of the annually-averaged losses (169 mg C m−2 d−1), and phytodetritus POC export comprises ~10%. Furthermore, export and grazing losses each exhibit distinctive seasonality captured by all floats spanning 60°S to 69°S. These similar trends reveal widespread patterns in phytoplankton fate throughout the Southern Ocean SIZ.
Australian Research Council
Publication titleNature Communications
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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