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Enhanced Southern Ocean biomass with increased Diapycnal mixing
  • Elizabeth Catherine Ellison,
  • Matthew R. Mazloff,
  • Ali Mashayek
Elizabeth Catherine Ellison
Imperial College london

Corresponding Author:ece1818@ic.ac.uk

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Matthew R. Mazloff
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Ali Mashayek
Imperial College
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The Southern Ocean (SO) is the worlds largest high nutrient low chlorophyll region, and has a plentiful supply of underutilised macronutrients due to light and iron limitation. These macronutrients supply the rest of the neighboring ocean basins, and are hugely important for global productivity and ocean carbon sequestration. Vertical mixing rates in the SO are known to vary by an order of magnitude temporally and spatially, however there is great uncertainty in the parameterization of this mixing, including in the specification of a background value in coarse resolutation Earth System Models. Using a biogeochemical-ocean model we show that SO biomass is highly sensitive to altering the background diapycnal mixing over short timescales. Increasing mixing enhances biomass by altering key biogeochemical and physical parameters. An increased surface supply of iron is responsible for biomass increases in most areas, demonstrating the importance of year round diapycnal fluxes of iron to SO surface waters. These changes to SO biomass could potentially alter atmospheric CO2 concentration over longer timescales, alluding to the importance of accurate representation diapycnal mixing in climate models.