Evidence of Deep DOC Enrichment via Particle Export Beneath Subarctic and Northern Subtropical Fronts in the North Pacific

Chelsea Nicole Lopez, Dennis Arthur Hansell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Here we provide compelling evidence that deep particle export enhanced dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations beneath the Pacific’s Subarctic Front (SA, ∼42°N) and Northern Subtropical Front (NST, ∼34°N). We report three main findings: First, deep export of subjectively small particles (128–512 μm) was apparent throughout the frontal zone in which the SA resides. However, export of large particles was specifically associated with the SA, rather than the entire frontal zone, and appeared to exclusively transfer DOC into the bathypelagic water column. Second, a similar DOC enrichment existed beneath the NST, though this signal was curiously not accompanied by observable particles (>128 μm). We conclude that export occurring previously in winter left this DOC behind as a residue, though the associated particles were no longer present by spring. Third, the presence of strong hydrographic fronts was not the only control on export that resulted in these unique DOC distributions. Deep export and DOC enrichment was also controlled by latitude-specific biogeochemical and hydrographic conditions, such as depth of the nutricline and seasonal mixed layer shoaling. Given these observations, the fronts within the transitional region of the North Pacific are clearly special locations for deep carbon sequestration and for providing uncommon DOC enrichment that ultimately supports the deep microbial community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number659034
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - Sep 13 2021


  • biogeochemistry
  • dissolved organic carbon
  • export
  • North Pacific fronts
  • particle export
  • subarctic fronts
  • subtropical fronts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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