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Remote assessment of the fate of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean sea-ice zone


Moreau, S and Boyd, PW and Strutton, PG, Remote assessment of the fate of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean sea-ice zone, Nature Communications, 11, (1) Article 3108. ISSN 2041-1723 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© 2020. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41467-020-16931-0


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctic, phytoplankton blooms
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes
UTAS Author:Moreau, S (Dr Sebastien Moreau)
UTAS Author:Boyd, PW (Professor Philip Boyd)
UTAS Author:Strutton, PG (Professor Peter Strutton)
ID Code:150345
Year Published:2020
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (CE170100023)
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-06-09
Last Modified:2022-08-24
Downloads:6 View Download Statistics

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