Biogeochemical variability in the southern Ross Sea as observed by a glider deployment

Daniel E. Kaufman, Marjorie A. M. Friedrichs, Walker O. Smith, Bastien Y. Queste, Karen J. Heywood

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High-resolution autonomous glider data (including temperature, salinity, fluorescence, and optical backscatter) collected during the 2010-2011 austral summer identified variations in phytoplankton biomass along two glider sections near 76°40'S. Sea surface temperatures were warmer during the latter, westward section, while mixed layer depths were deeper. Substantial quantities of Modified Circumpolar Deep Water, identified by neutral density criteria, were located within both sections. Chlorophyll (Chl) concentrations computed from fluorescence exhibited daily quenching near the surface, and deep chlorophyll concentrations at 200. m became periodically elevated, suggesting substantial export on small space and time scales. The concentrations of particulate organic carbon (POC) computed from backscatter increased abruptly during the latter, westward section, concurrent with a decrease in chlorophyll. These higher POC:Chl ratios were not strongly correlated with presence of MCDW or with shallower mixed layer depths, but were strongly associated with higher surface temperatures and wind speed. The observed POC:Chl increase suggests a marked spatial and temporal transition between a Phaeocystis antarctica-dominated assemblage characterized by modest POC:Chl ratios to a diatom-dominated assemblage. Finally, a subsampling analysis highlights the capability of high-resolution glider data to resolve these biological/physical parameter correlations that are not discernible from lower frequency data typical of traditional cruise stations. © 2014 The Authors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalDeep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Glider
  • Modified Circumpolar Deep Water
  • Phytoplankton
  • Ross Sea

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