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Respiration patterns in the dark ocean
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  • Olivier Sulpis,
  • David Trossman,
  • Mark Holzer,
  • Emil Jeansson,
  • Siv K Lauvset,
  • Jack J Middelburg
Olivier Sulpis

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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David Trossman
University of Maryland, College Park
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Mark Holzer
University of New South Wales
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Emil Jeansson
NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research
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Siv K Lauvset
NORCE Norwegian Research Centre
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Jack J Middelburg
Utrecht University
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In the dark ocean, respiring organisms are the main sink for dissolved oxygen. The respiration rate in a given seawater volume can be quantified through dissolved oxygen drawdown or organic matter consumption as a function of time. Estimates of dissolved oxygen utilization rates (OUR) abound in the literature, but are typically obtained using proxies of questionable accuracy, often with low vertical resolution, and neglecting key regions such as the Southern and Indian oceans. Respiration rates based on particulate (POC) or dissolved (DOC) organic carbon are also sparsely observed and for DOC unavailable in many regions. Consequently, the relative contributions of POC or DOC as a respiration substrate in the dark ocean are unknown. Here we use recent datasets of true oxygen utilization, seawater age, and DOC to derive OUR and DOC consumption-rate profiles in 10 oceanic regions. We demonstrate that although DOC and POC consumption rates are globally consistent with OUR, they underestimate OUR in the deep, suggesting strong oxygen utilization at the seafloor. In the abyss, we find a negative correlation of DOC consumption rate with seawater age, suggesting that DOC reactivity decreases along the deep branch of the conveyor circulation. Our results highlight that benthic organisms are sensitive to perturbations in the surface production of organic matter and to large-scale circulation changes that affect its supply to the abyss.
27 Feb 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
01 Mar 2023Published in ESS Open Archive