Robert T. Letscher

and 3 more

Earth System Models generally predict increasing upper ocean stratification from 21st century planetary warming, which will cause a decrease in the vertical nutrient flux resulting in declining marine net primary productivity (NPP) and carbon export fluxes. Recent advances in quantifying marine ecosystem carbon to nutrient stoichiometry have identified large latitudinal and biome variability, with low-latitude oligotrophic systems harboring pico-sized phytoplankton exhibiting large phosphorus to carbon cellular plasticity. Climate forced changes in nutrient flux stoichiometry and phytoplankton community composition is thus likely to alter the ocean’s biogeochemical response and feedback with the carbon-climate system. We have added three pico-phytoplankton functional types within the Biogeochemical Elemental Cycling component of the Community Earth System Model while incorporating variable cellular phosphorus to carbon stoichiometry for all represented phytoplankton types. The model simulates Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus populations that dominate the productivity and sinking carbon export of the tropical and subtropical ocean, and pico-eukaryote populations that contribute significantly to productivity and export within the subtropical to mid-latitude transition zone, contributing a combined 50 – 70% of these fluxes. Pico-phytoplankton cellular stoichiometry and resulting sinking export patterns inversely track the distribution of surface phosphate, with the western subtropical regions of each basin supporting the most P-poor stoichiometries. Collectively, pico-phytoplankton contribute ~58% of global NPP and ~46% of global particulate organic carbon export below 100 meters. Subtropical gyre recirculation regions along the poleward flanks of surface western boundary currents are identified as regional hotspots of enhanced carbon export exhibiting C-rich/P-poor stoichiometry, preferentially inhabited by pico-eukaryotes and diatoms.

Zhou Liang

and 2 more

Surface ocean marine dissolved organic matter (DOM) serves as an important reservoir of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) in the global ocean, and is produced and consumed by both autotrophic and heterotrophic communities. While prior work has described distributions of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen (DON) concentrations, our understanding of DOC:DON:DOP stoichiometry in the global surface ocean has been limited by the availability of DOP concentration measurements. Here we estimate mean surface ocean bulk and labile DOC:DON:DOP stoichiometry in biogeochemically and geographically defined regions, using newly available marine DOM concentration databases. Global mean surface ocean bulk (C:N:P = 387:26:1) and labile (C:N:P = 179:20:1) DOM stoichiometries are higher than Redfield stoichiometry, with labile DOM stoichiometry similar to that of global mean surface ocean particulate organic matter (C:N:P = 160:21:1) reported in a recent compilation. DOM stoichiometry varies across ocean basins, ranging from 251:17:1 to 638:43:1 for bulk and 83:15:1 to 414:49:1 for labile DOM C:N:P, respectively. Surface ocean DOP exhibits larger relative changes than DOC and DON, driving surface ocean gradients in DOC:DON:DOP stoichiometry. Inferred autotrophic consumption of DOP helps explain intra- and inter-basin patterns of marine DOM C:N:P stoichiometry, with regional patterns of water column denitrification and iron supply influencing the biogeochemical conditions favoring DOP use as an organic nutrient. Specifically, surface ocean marine DOM exhibits increasingly P-depleted stoichiometries from east to west in the Pacific and from south to north in the Atlantic consistent with patterns of increasing P stress and alleviated iron stress, respectively.

Robert T. Letscher

and 3 more

Marine dissolved organic phosphorus (DOP) can serve as an organic nutrient to marine autotrophs, helping to sustain a portion of annual net community production (ANCP). Numerical models of ocean circulation and biogeochemistry have diagnosed the magnitude of this process at regional to global scales but have thus far been validated against DOP observations concentrated within the Atlantic basin. Here we assimilate a new marine DOP dataset with global coverage to optimize an inverse model of the ocean phosphorus cycle to investigate the regionally variable role of marine DOP utilization by autotrophs contributing to ANCP. We find ~25% of ANCP accumulates as DOP with a regionally variable pattern ranging from 8 – 50% across nine biomes investigated. Estimated mean surface ocean DOP lifetimes of ~0.5 – 2 years allow for transport of DOP from regions of net production to net consumption in subtropical gyres. Globally, DOP utilization by autotrophs sustains ~14% (0.9 Pg C yr-1) of ANCP with regional contributions as large as ~75% within the oligotrophic North Atlantic and North Pacific. Shallow export and remineralization of DOP within the ocean subtropics contributes ~30 – 80% of phosphate regeneration within the upper thermocline (< 300 m). These shallow isopycnals beneath the subtropical gyres harboring the preponderance of remineralized DOP outcrop near the poleward edge of each gyre, which when combined with subsequent lateral transport equatorward by Ekman convergence, provide a shallow overturning loop retaining phosphorus within the subtropical biome, likely helping to sustain gyre ANCP over multi-annual to decadal timescales.

Wei-Lei Wang

and 4 more

The downward flux of organic carbon exported from the surface ocean is of great importance to the Earth’s climate because it represents the major pathway for transporting CO from the surface ocean and atmosphere into the deep ocean and sediments where it can be sequestered for a long time. Here we present global-scale estimates for the export fluxes of total, dissolved, and particulate organic carbon (TOC, DOC, and POC, respectively) constrained by observed thorium-234 (Th) activity and dissolved phosphorus (DIP) concentration in a global inverse biogeochemical model for the cycling of phosphorus and Th. We find that POC export flux is low in the subtropical oceans, indicating that a projected expansion of the subtropical gyres due to global warming will weaken the gravitational biological carbon pump. We also find that DOC export flux is low in the tropical oceans, intermediate in the upwelling Antarctic zone and subtropical south Pacific, and high in the subtropical Atlantic, subtropical north Pacific, and productive subantarctic zone (SAZ). The horizontal distribution of DOC export ratio (F/F) increases from tropical to polar regions, possibly due to the detrainment of DOC rich surface water during mixing events into subsurface waters (increasing the strength of the mixed layer pump poleward due to stronger seasonality). Large contribution to the export flux from DOC implies that the efficiency with which photosynthetically fixed carbon is exported as particles may not be as large as currently assumed by widely used global export algorithms.

Matthew C. Long

and 9 more

The Marine Biogeochemistry Library (MARBL) is a prognostic ocean biogeochemistry model that simulates marine ecosystem dynamics and the coupled cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, silicon, and oxygen. MARBL is a component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM); it supports flexible ecosystem configuration of multiple phytoplankton and zooplankton functional types; it is also portable, designed to interface with multiple ocean circulation models. Here, we present scientific documentation of MARBL, describe its configuration in CESM2 experiments included in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 6 (CMIP6), and evaluate its performance against a number of observational datasets. The model simulates an air-sea CO2 flux and many aspects of the carbon cycle in good agreement with observations. However, the simulated integrated uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is weak, which we link to poor thermocline ventilation, a feature evident in simulated chlorofluorocarbon distributions. This also contributes to larger-than-observed oxygen minimum zones. Moreover, radiocarbon distributions show that the simulated circulation in the deep North Pacific is extremely sluggish, yielding extensive oxygen depletion and nutrient trapping at depth. Surface macronutrient biases are generally positive at low latitudes and negative at high latitudes. CESM2 simulates globally-integrated net primary production (NPP) of 48 Pg C yr-1 and particulate export flux at 100 m of 7.1 Pg C yr-1. The impacts of climate change include an increase in globally-integrated NPP, but substantial declines in the North Atlantic. Particulate export is projected to decline globally, attributable to decreasing export efficiency associated with changes in phytoplankton community composition.