The impact of a coccolithophore bloom on oceanic carbon uptake in the Northeast Atlantic during summer 1991

J. E. Robertson, C. Robinson, D. R. Turner, P. Holligan, AJ Watson, P. Boyd, E. Fernandez, M. Finch

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Abstract

Measurements of the carbonate system in the surface waters of the northeast Atlantic during summer 1991, following the main growth phase of a bloom of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi are presented. We examine the perturbation of the carbonate system and assess the effect of calcification on the air-sea gradient of dissolved carbon dioxide in the surface ocean. An estimate of 1:1 organic to inorganic carbon uptake is calculated using the measurements of the surface carbonate parameters which is consistent with other estimates for E. huxleyi populations using radio-tracer methods. Using the changing ratio of dissolved carbon dioxide to nitrate concentration we demonstrate a relative increase in dissolved carbon dioxide due to calcification with evidence of this increase supported by estimates of the buffer factor and C:N assimilation ratios. Within the E. huxleyi bloom the effect of calcification on alkalinity appears to have reduced the air-sea gradient by ∼ 15 μatms (corrected to a constant temperature) using measurements from a 440 km section along the 20°W meridian. This reduction could prove to be significant in terms of the overall drawdown of carbon during the spring-summer season in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-314
Number of pages18
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1994

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