Stocks and dynamics of dissolved and particulate organic matter in the Southern Ross Sea, Antarctica

C. A. Carlson, D. A. Hansell, E. T. Peltzer, Jr Smith

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117 Scopus citations


Dissolved and particulate organic matter was measured during six cruises to the southern Ross Sea. The cruises were conducted during late austral winter to autumn from 1994 to 1997 and included coverage of various stages of the seasonal phytoplankton bloom. The data from the various years are compiled into a representative seasonal cycle in order to assess general patterns of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and particulate organic matter (POM) dynamics in the southern Ross Sea, Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) were at background concentrations of approximately 42 and 3 μM C, respectively, during the late winter conditions in October. As the spring phytoplankton bloom progressed, organic matter increased, and by January DOC and POC reached as high as 30 and 107 μM C, respectively, in excess of initial wintertime conditions. Stocks and concentrations of DOC and POC returned to near background values by autumn (April). Approximately 90% of the accumulated organic matter was partitioned into POM, with modest net accumulation of DOM stocks despite large net organic matter production and the dominance of Phaeocystis antarctica. Changes in NO3 concentration from wintertime values were used to calculate the equivalent biological drawdown of dissolved inorganic carbon (DICequiv). The fraction of DICequiv drawdown resulting in net DOC production was relatively constant (ca. 11%), despite large temporal and spatial variability in DICequiv drawdown. The C: N (molar ratio) of the seasonally produced DOM had a geometric mean of 6.2 and was nitrogen-rich compared to background DOM. The DOM stocks that accumulate in excess of deep refractory background stocks are often referred to as "semi-labile" DOM. The "semi-labile" pool in the Ross Sea turns over on timescales of about 6 months. As a result of the modest net DOM production and its lability, the role DOM plays in export to the deep sea is small in this region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3201-3225
Number of pages25
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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