Stukel, M.R.; Aluwihare, L.I.; Barbeau, K.A.; Chekalyuk, A.M.; Goericke, R.; Miller, A.J.; Ohman, M.D.; Ruacho, A.; Song, H.; Stephens, B.M.; Landry, M.R.
Mesoscale ocean fronts enhance carbon export due to gravitational sinking and subduction
Type $loc['typeJournal Article']
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
biological carbon pump; carbon cycle; particle flux; particulate organic carbon; plankton
Abstract Enhanced vertical carbon transport (gravitational sinking and subduction) at mesoscale ocean fronts may explain the demonstrated imbalance of new production and sinking particle export in coastal upwelling ecosystems. Based on flux assessments from 238U:234Th disequilibrium and sediment traps, we found 2 to 3 times higher rates of gravitational particle export near a deep-water front (305 mg Cm-2d-1) compared with adjacent water or to mean (nonfrontal) regional conditions. Elevated particle flux at the front was mechanistically linked to Fe-stressed diatoms and high mesozooplankton fecal pellet production. Using a data assimilative regional ocean model fit to measured conditions, we estimate that an additional approximately 225 mg Cm-2d-1 was exported as subduction of particle-rich water at the front, highlighting a transport mechanism that is not captured by sediment traps and is poorly quantified by most models and in situ measurements. Mesoscale fronts may be responsible for over a quarter of total organic carbon sequestration in the California Current and other coastal upwelling ecosystems.
Address Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093
Place of Publication
Abbreviated Series Title
Funding PMID:28115723; PMCID:PMC5307443
Call Number COAPS @ mfield @
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