Seasonal flux patterns and carbon transport from low-oxygen eddies at the Cape Verde Ocean Observatory: lessons learned from a time series sediment trap study (2009–2016).

Fischer, Gerhard, Romero, Oscar E., Karstensen, Johannes , Baumann, Karl-Heinz, Moradi, Nasrollah, Iversen, Morten, Ruhland, Götz, Klann, Marco and Körtzinger, Arne (2021) Seasonal flux patterns and carbon transport from low-oxygen eddies at the Cape Verde Ocean Observatory: lessons learned from a time series sediment trap study (2009–2016). Open Access Biogeosciences, 18 (24). pp. 6479-6500. DOI 10.5194/bg-18-6479-2021.

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Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are abundant in the eastern tropical North Atlantic and act as oases for phytoplankton growth due to local enrichment of nutrients in otherwise oligotrophic waters. It is not clear whether these eddies can efficiently transfer organic carbon and other flux components to depth and if they are important for the marine carbon budget. Due to their transient and regionally restricted nature, measurements of eddies' contribution to bathypelagic particle flux are difficult to obtain. Rare observations of export flux associated with low-oxygen eddies have suggested efficient export from the surface to the deep ocean, indicating that organic carbon flux attenuation might be low. Here we report on particle flux dynamics north of the Cabo Verde islands at the oligotrophic Cape Verde Ocean Observatory (CVOO; approx. 17∘35′ N, 24∘15′ W). The CVOO site is located in the preferred pathways of highly productive eddies that ultimately originate from the Mauritanian upwelling region. Between 2009 and 2016, we collected biogenic and lithogenic particle fluxes with sediment traps moored at ca. 1 and 3 km water depths at the CVOO site. From concurrent hydrography and oxygen observations, we confirm earlier findings that highly productive eddies are characterized by colder and less saline waters and a low-oxygen signal as well. Overall, we observed quite consistent seasonal flux patterns during the passage of highly productive eddies in the winters of 2010, 2012 and 2016. We found flux increases at 3 km depth during October–November when the eddies approached CVOO and distinct flux peaks during February–March, clearly exceeding low oligotrophic background fluxes during winter 2011 and showing an enhanced particle flux seasonality. During spring, we observed a stepwise flux decrease leading to summer flux minima. The flux pattern of biogenic silicate (BSi) showed a stronger seasonality compared to organic carbon. Additionally, the deep fluxes of total mass showed an unusually higher seasonality compared to the 1 km traps. We assume that BSi and organic carbon/lithogenic material had different sources within the eddies. BSi-rich particles may originate at the eddy boundaries where large diatom aggregates are formed due to strong shear and turbulence, resulting in gravitational settling and, additionally, in an active local downward transport. Organic carbon associated with lithogenic material is assumed to originate from the interior of eddies or from mixed sources, both constituting smaller, dust-ballasted particles. Our findings suggest that the regularly passing highly productive eddies at CVOO repeatedly release characteristic flux signals to the bathypelagic zone during winter–spring seasons that are far above the oligotrophic background fluxes and sequester higher organic carbon than during oligotrophic settings. However, the reasons for a lower carbon flux attenuation below eddies remain elusive.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
MARUM
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
OceanRep > SFB 754
HGF-AWI
Main POF Topic: PT2: Ocean and Cryosphere
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
Publisher: Copernicus Publications (EGU)
Projects: CVOO, SFB754, OceanSITES, REEBUS
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2021 09:49
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2022 15:36
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/54654

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