Phytoplankton size-class contributions to new and regenerated production during the EXPORTS Northeast Pacific Ocean field deployment

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The NASA EXport Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS) program was established to better quantify the pathways of the biological carbon pump in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of global carbon export efficiency. The summer 2018 field campaign in the vicinity of Ocean Station Papa (Station P; 50_N, 145_W) in the Northeast Pacific Ocean yielded evidence of low phytoplankton biomass and primary productivity dominated by small cells (<5 mm) that are reliant on recycled nutrients. Using combined 13C/15N stable isotope incubations, we calculated an average depth-integrated dissolved inorganic carbon uptake (net primary production) rate of 23.1 mmol C m-2 d-1 throughout the euphotic zone with small cells contributing 88.9% of the total daily DIC uptake. Average depth-integrated NO3 - uptake rates were 1.5 mmol N m-2 d-1 with small cells contributing 73.4% of the total daily NO3 - uptake. Estimates of new and regenerated production fluctuated, with small cells continuing to dominate both forms of production. The daily mixed-layer f-ratio ranged from 0.17 to 0.38 for the whole community, consistent with previous studies, which indicates a predominance of regenerated production in this region,with small and large cells (_5 mm) having average f-ratios of 0.28 and 0.82, respectively. Peak phytoplankton biomass, total primary productivity and new production occurred between Julian Days 238 and 242 of our observation period, driven primarily by an increase in carbon and nitrate assimilation rates without apparent substantial shifts in the phytoplankton size-class structure. Our findings demonstrate the importance of small cells in performing the majority of net primary production and new production and the modest productivity fluctuations that occur in this iron-limited region of the Northeast Pacific Ocean, driven by ephemeral increases in new production, which could have significant ramifications for carbon export over broad timescales.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meyer, MG; Gong, W; Kafrissen, SM; Torano, O; Varela, DE; Santoro, AE; Cassar, N; Gifford, S; Niebergall, AK; Sharpe, G; Marchetti, A

Published Date

  • July 29, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 1

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2325-1026

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1525/elementa.2021.00068

Citation Source

  • Scopus