Benthic organic carbon flux and oxygen penetration reflect different plankton provinces in the Southern Ocean

oliver.sachs [ at ]


For the investigation of organic carbon fluxes reaching the seafloor, oxygen microprofiles were measured at 145 sites in different sub-regions of the Southern Ocean. At 11 sites, an in situ oxygen microprofiler was deployed for the measurement of oxygen profiles and the calculation of organic carbon fluxes. At four sites, both in situ and ex situ data were determined for high latitudes. Based on this data set as well as on previous published data, a relationship was established for the estimation of fluxes derived by ex situ measured O2 profiles. The fluxes of labile organic matter range from 0.5 to 37.1 mg C m−2 d−1. The high values determined by in situ measurements were observed in the Polar Front region (water depth of more than 4290 m) and are comparable to organic matter fluxes observed for high-productivity, upwelling areas like off West Africa. The oxygen penetration depth, which reflects the long-term organic matter flux to the sediment, was correlated with assemblages of key diatom species. In the Scotia Sea (not, vert, similar3000 m water depth), oxygen penetration depths of less than 15 cm were observed, indicating high benthic organic carbon fluxes. In contrast, the oxic zone extends down to several decimeters in abyssal sediments of the Weddell Sea and the southeastern South Atlantic. The regional pattern of organic carbon fluxes derived from microsensor data suggests that episodic and seasonal sedimentation pulses are important for the carbon supply to the seafloor of the deep Southern Ocean.

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DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2009.02.003

Cite as
Sachs, O. , Sauter, E. , Schlüter, M. , Rutgers v. d. Loeff, M. , Jerosch, K. and Holby, O. (2009): Benthic organic carbon flux and oxygen penetration reflect different plankton provinces in the Southern Ocean , Deep-Sea Research Part I 56, pp., pp. 1319-1335 . doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2009.02.003

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