Primary production in the Sub-Antarctic and Polar Frontal Zones south of Tasmania, Australia; SAZ-Sense survey, 2007
Westwood, KJ and Griffiths, FB and Webb, JP and Wright, SW, Primary production in the Sub-Antarctic and Polar Frontal Zones south of Tasmania, Australia; SAZ-Sense survey, 2007, Deep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 58, (21-22) pp. 2162-2178. ISSN 0967-0645 (2011) [Refereed Article]
The Sub-Antarctic Zone (SAZ) in the Southern Ocean provides a significant sink for atmospheric CO2 and quantification of this sink is therefore important in models of climate change. During the SAZ-Sense (Sub-Antarctic Sensitivity to Environmental Change) survey conducted during austral summer 2007, we examined CO2 sequestration through measurement of gross primary production rates using 14C. Sampling was conducted in the SAZ to the south-west and south-east of Tasmania, and in the Polar Frontal Zone (PFZ) directly south of Tasmania. Despite higher chlorophyll biomass off the south-east of Tasmania, production measurements were similar to the south-west with rates of 986.2±500.4 and 1304.3±300.1 mg C m−2 d−1, respectively. Assimilation numbers suggested the onset of cell senescence by the time of sampling in the south-east, with healthy phytoplankton populations to the south-west sampled three weeks earlier. Production in the PFZ (475.4±168.7 mg C m−2 d−1) was lower than the SAZ, though not significantly. The PFZ was characterised by a defined deep chlorophyll maximum near the euphotic depth (75 m) with low production due to significant light limitation. A healthy and less light-limited phytoplankton population occupied the mixed layer of the PFZ, allowing more notable production there despite lower chlorophyll. A hypothesis that iron availability would enhance gross primary production in the SAZ was not supported due to the seasonal effect that masked possible responses. However, highest production (2572.5 mg C m−2 d−1) was measured nearby in the Sub-Tropical Zone off south-east Tasmania in a region where iron was likely to be non-limiting (Bowie et al., 2009. Biogeochemical iron budgets of the Southern Ocean south of Australia: decoupling of iron and nutrient cycles in the subantarctic zone by the summertime supply. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 23(4), doi:10.1029/2009GB003500).