Insights into Southern Ocean carbon export from the δ13c of particles and dissolved inorganic carbon during the SOIREE iron release experiment

T. W. Trull*, L. Armand

*Corresponding author for this work

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101 Citations (Scopus)


13C contents of total dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C-DIC) and particulate organic matter (δ13Corg) were determined to examine the factors influencing phytoplankton 13C contents and carbon export from the SOIREE iron-induced algal bloom. Suspended particles sieved into 200, 70, 20, 5, and 1 micrometer (μm) size classes displayed an extremely large range in δ13Corg of 8‰. δ13Corg values increased from - 28‰ for the 1-5 μm class to a maximum of - 20‰ for the 20-70 μm class, which was dominated by the large pennate diatom Fragilariopsis kerguelensis. Larger particles (70-200 and > 200 μm) had similar δ13Corg to the smaller (1-5 and 5-20 μm) particles, reflecting both the presence of long narrow Thalassiothrix antarctica diatoms and zooplankton that grazed on small phytoplankton. Comparison of results inside and outside the bloom identified cell surface/volume ratio (mainly reflecting cell size) as the dominant control of phytoplankton δ13Corg, with subsidiary roles for growth rate and seawater [CO2]aq. The SOIREE iron fertilization provoked an increase in the proportion of large (> 20 μm) diatoms. This increased the δ13Corg of the bulk suspended particles within the mixed layer, but there was minimal increase in the δ13Corg of sub-surface suspended particles and negligible change in the δ13Corg of particles obtained with sediment traps suspended below the bloom. This suggests that there was no increase in carbon export over the ∼ 13 day observation period. However, comparison to δ13Corg results from previous voyages, and to vertical changes in δ133C-DIC, suggests that large diatoms control carbon export from the Antarctic Zone over the summer growth season. This result must be viewed with great caution as it is based on very sparse data and involves several assumptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2655-2680
Number of pages26
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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