Micro-phytoplankton photosynthesis, primary production and potential export production in the Atlantic Ocean
Tilstone, GH; Lange, PK; Misra, A; et al.Brewin, RJW; Cain, T
Date: 1 November 2017
Progress in Oceanography
Micro-phytoplankton is the >20 μm component of the phytoplankton community and plays a major role in the global ocean carbon pump, through the sequestering of anthropogenic CO2 and export of organic carbon to the deep ocean. To evaluate the global impact of the marine carbon cycle, quantification of micro-phytoplankton primary production ...
Micro-phytoplankton is the >20 μm component of the phytoplankton community and plays a major role in the global ocean carbon pump, through the sequestering of anthropogenic CO2 and export of organic carbon to the deep ocean. To evaluate the global impact of the marine carbon cycle, quantification of micro-phytoplankton primary production is paramount. In this paper we use both in situ data and a satellite model to estimate the contribution of micro-phytoplankton to total primary production (PP) in the Atlantic Ocean. From 1995 to 2013, 940 measurements of primary production were made at 258 sites on 23 Atlantic Meridional Transect Cruises from the United Kingdom to the South African or Patagonian Shelf. Micro-phytoplankton primary production was highest in the South Subtropical Convergence (SSTC ∼ 409 ± 720 mg C m−2 d−1), where it contributed between 38 % of the total PP, and was lowest in the North Atlantic Gyre province (NATL ∼ 37 ± 27 mg C m−2 d−1), where it represented 18 % of the total PP. Size-fractionated photosynthesis-irradiance (PE) parameters measured on AMT22 and 23 showed that micro-phytoplankton had the highest maximum photosynthetic rate (PmB) (∼5 mg C (mg Chl a)−1 h−1) followed by nano- (∼4 mg C (mg Chl a)−1 h−1) and pico- (∼2 mg C (mg Chl a)−1 h−1). The highest PmB was recorded in the NATL and lowest in the North Atlantic Drift Region (NADR) and South Atlantic Gyre (SATL). The PE parameters were used to parameterise a remote sensing model of size-fractionated PP, which explained 84 % of the micro-phytoplankton in situ PP variability with a regression slope close to 1. The model was applied to the SeaWiFS time series from 1998–2010, which illustrated that micro-phytoplankton PP remained constant in the NADR, NATL, Canary Current Coastal upwelling (CNRY), Eastern Tropical Atlantic (ETRA), Western Tropical Atlantic (WTRA) and SATL, but showed a gradual increase in the Benguela Upwelling zone (BENG) and South Subtropical Convergence (SSTC). The mean annual carbon fixation of micro-phytoplankton was highest in the CNRY (∼140 g C m−2 yr−1), and lowest in the SATL (27 g C m−2 yr−1). A Thorium-234 based export production (ThExP) algorithm was applied to estimates of total PP in each province. There was a strong coupling between micro-phytoplankton PP and ThExP in the NADR and SSTC where between 23 and 39 % of micro-phytoplankton PP contributed to ThExP. The lowest contribution by micro-phytoplankton to ThExP was in the ETRA and WTRA which were 15 and 21 % respectively. The results suggest that micro-phytoplankton PP in the SSTC is the most efficient export system and the ETRA is the least efficient in the Atlantic Ocean.
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