eCite Digital Repository

Alternative particle formation pathways in the Eastern Tropical North Pacificís biological carbon pump


Cavan, EL and Giering, SLC and Wolff, GA and Trimmer, M and Sanders, R, Alternative particle formation pathways in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific's biological carbon pump, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 123, (7) pp. 2198-2211. ISSN 2169-8953 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

©2018. The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1029/2018JG004392


A fraction of organic carbon produced in the oceans by phytoplankton sinks storing 5Ė15 gigatonnes of carbon annually in the ocean interior. The accepted paradigm is that rapid aggregation of phytoplankton cells occurs, forming large, fresh particles which sink quickly; this concept is incorporated into ecosystem models used to predict the future climate. Here we demonstrate a slower, less efficient export pathway in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific. Lipid biomarkers suggest that the large, fast‐sinking particles found beneath the mixed layer are compositionally distinct from those found in the mixed layer and thus not directly and efficiently formed from phytoplankton cells. We postulate that they are formed from the in situ aggregation of smaller, slow‐sinking particles over time in the mixed layer itself. This export pathway is likely widespread where smaller phytoplankton species dominate. Its lack of representation in biogeochemical models suggests that they may be currently overestimating the ability of the oceans to store carbon if large, fast‐sinking, labile particles dominate simulated particle export.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:organic carbon cycle, lipids, sinking particles
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Measurement and assessment of freshwater quality (incl. physical and chemical conditions of water)
UTAS Author:Cavan, EL (Dr Emma Cavan)
ID Code:127470
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2018-07-30
Last Modified:2021-09-07
Downloads:60 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page