EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Which Processes Sustain Biota in Open-Ocean Deep Chlorophyll Maxima?

Shaun Rigby1, Richard Williams1, Eric Achterberg2, and Alessandro Tagliabue1
Shaun Rigby et al.
  • 1Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK (
  • 2GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, 24148 Kiel, Germany.

Deep chlorophyll maxima (DCM) are productive layers widespread throughout the global ocean. In the DCM, marine phytoplankton are adapted to low light conditions at the cost of elevated cellular iron (Fe) requirements, leading to Fe deficient growth. To sustain productivity, nutrient demands must be met by sources such as the dissolution of sinking lithogenic particles, recycling of biogenic particles and physical transport from below. The GEOTRACES programme has expanded the global ocean datasets for a suite of trace metals and also noble gases. Here, we exploit helium measurements to derive a vertical flux estimate of nitrate (NO3), phosphate (PO4), silica (Si) and Fe into the DCM in the subtropical North Atlantic and equatorial Pacific. We apply the Si* relation to show differences in nutrient deficiency between waters in the DCM and the upward flux into the DCM. The offset in Si* between the DCM and upward flux may be enhanced or reduced by the dissolution of sinking particles or internal recycling. We show that the upward Fe flux to the DCM is of similar magnitude to Fe supplied through regeneration. In contrast, we show that the upward Fe flux outweighs estimates of Fe supplied to the DCM via recycling or lithogenic particles in the subtropical North Atlantic. The muted role of lithogenic particles in our estimates leads to the question: what assumptions must be made about aeolian deposition to increase the relevance of lithogenic particles at the DCM?

How to cite: Rigby, S., Williams, R., Achterberg, E., and Tagliabue, A.: Which Processes Sustain Biota in Open-Ocean Deep Chlorophyll Maxima?, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19351,, 2020

This abstract will not be presented.