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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-317
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2017-317
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 25 Aug 2017

Research article | 25 Aug 2017

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

The Ballast Effect in the Indian Ocean

Tim Rixen1,2, Birgit Gaye2, Kay-Christian Emeis2,3, and Venkitasubramani Ramaswamy4 Tim Rixen et al.
  • 1Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen, 28359, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, 20146, Germany
  • 3Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Institute of Coastal Research, Geesthacht, 21502, Germany
  • 4National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa, 403004, India

Abstract. In this study, data obtained from a sediment trap experiments off South Java are analyzed and compared to satellite-derived information on primary production and data collected by deep-moored sediment traps in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The aim was to study the relative importance of primary production and the ballast effect on the organic carbon export and the CO2 uptake of the biological carbon pumps. Therefore, data obtained from sediment trap experiments carried out in other ocean basins were also integrated into the data analysis and a four-box model was developed. Our data showed that the organic carbon flux in the highly-productive upwelling system in the Arabian Sea was similar to those in the low productive system off South Java. Off South Java as in other river-influenced regions, lithogenic matter supplied from land mainly controls the organic carbon flux via its ballast effect in sinking particles, whereas carbonate produced by marine organisms appears to be the main ballast material in the high productive regions. Since the carbonate flux tends to increase with an increasing export production, it is difficult to quantify the relative importance of productivity and the ballast effect on the organic carbon flux into the deep sea. However, the export of organic matter into the deep sea represents a loss of nutrients for the pelagic ecosystems, which needs to be balanced by mode water nutrient supply into the seasonal thermocline to sustain the productivity of the pelagic system. The amount of preformed nutrients utilized during the formation of the exported organic matter strongly influences the impact of the ballast effect on the CO2 uptake of the organic carbon pump. Accordingly, this is stronger at higher latitudes where preformed nutrients are formed than at lower latitudes where the euphotic zone is nutrient depleted. Nevertheless, the ballast effect enhances the export of organic matter into the deep sea and favors the sedimentation of organic matter in river-influenced regions. Since globally > 80 % of organic carbon burial occurs in river-dominated systems, the lithogenic ballast is assumed to play an important role in the Earth’s climate system on geological time scales.

Tim Rixen et al.
Interactive discussion
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AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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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
Tim Rixen et al.
Data sets

Particle fluxes obtained from sediment trap experiments in the northern Indian Ocean T. Rixen, B. Gaye, K.-C. Emeis, V. Ramaswamy, and V. Ittekkot https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.879702

Tim Rixen et al.
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Short summary
Sediment trap experiments showed that in the river-influenced regions of the Indian Ocean lithogenic matter supplied from land controls the organic carbon export into the deep sea via its ballast effect in sinking particles. Carbonate produced by plankton is the main ballast material in the open ocean. The ballast effect increases the CO2 uptake of the organic carbon pump by enhancing the amount of nutrients used to bind CO2 and by favouring the sedimentation of organic matter.
Sediment trap experiments showed that in the river-influenced regions of the Indian Ocean...
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