Seasonal-Variation of Co2 and Nutrients in the High-Latitude Surface Oceans - a Comparative-Study

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Global Biogeochemical Cycles
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Seasonal data for pCO2 and the concentrations of CO2 and nutrients in high-latitude surface oceans obtained by the Lamont-Doherty CO2 group and Marine Research Institute, Reykjavik, are presented and analyzed. The seasonal progression and relationships between these properties are described, and their inter-ocean variation is compared. Spring phytoplankton blooms in the surface water of the North Atlantic Ocean and Iceland Sea caused a precipitous reduction of surface water pCO2 and the concentrations of CO2 and nutrients within two weeks, and proceeded until the nutrient salts were exhausted. This type of seasonal behavior is limited to the high-latitude (north of approximately 40-degrees-N) North Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas. In contrast, seasonal changes in CO2 and nutrients were more gradual in the North Pacific and the nutrients were only partially consumed in the surface waters of the subarctic North Pacific Ocean and Southern Ocean. The magnitude of seasonal changes in nutrient concentrations in the North Pacific and Southern Oceans was similar to that observed in the North Atlantic and adjoining seas. In the subpolar and polar waters of the North and South Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans, PCO2 and the concentrations of CO2 and nutrients were much higher during winter than summer. During winter, the high latitude areas of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Weddell Sea were sources for atmospheric CO2; during summer, they became CO2 sinks. This is attributed to the upwelling of deep waters rich in CO2 and nutrients during winter, and the intense photosynthesis occurring in strongly stratified upper layers during summer. On the other hand, subtropical waters were a CO2 source in summer and a sink in winter. Since these waters were depleted of nutrients and could only sustain low levels of primary production, the seasonal variation of pCO2 in subtropical waters and the CO2 sink/source condition were governed primarily by temperature. An intense CO2 sink zone was found along the confluence of the subtropical and subpolar waters (or the subtropical convergence). Its formation is attributed to the combined effects of cooling in subtropical waters and photosynthetic drawdown of CO2 in subpolar waters.


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