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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-10-11255-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bgd-10-11255-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 08 Jul 2013

Research article | 08 Jul 2013

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Temperature and phytoplankton cell size regulate carbon uptake and carbon overconsumption in the ocean

S. E. Craig1, H. Thomas1, C. T. Jones1, W. K. W. Li2, B. J. W. Greenan2, E. H. Shadwick3, and W. J. Burt1 S. E. Craig et al.
  • 1Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, P.O. Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada
  • 2Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y 4A2, Canada
  • 3Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Abstract. Phytoplankton plays a critical role in the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the ocean, and is comprised of a spectrum of cell sizes that are strongly associated with different oceanographic conditions. Studies suggest that the ocean will become increasingly stratified in response to a warming climate, limiting nutrient exchange to the upper sunlit ocean and favouring small cells able to grow in warmer, nutrient poor conditions. Here we show that, in a temperate shelf sea, a summertime population of numerically abundant small cells accounts for approximately 20% of annual carbon uptake. These small cells are not well represented by chlorophyll a – the ubiquitously used proxy of phytoplankton biomass – but rather, are strongly correlated with surface water temperature. Given the persistent near-zero nutrient concentrations during the summer, it appears that small cells drive carbon overconsumption, and suggest that their role in carbon fixation will become increasingly important in a warming ocean.

S. E. Craig et al.
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
S. E. Craig et al.
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