Southern Ocean Phytoplankton Blooms Observed by Biogeochemical Floats

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Takaya Uchida , Dhruv Balwada , Ryan Abernathey , Channing Prend, Emmanuel Boss, Sarah Gille


The spring bloom in the Southern Ocean is the rapid-growth phase of the seasonal cycle in phytoplankton. Many previous studies have characterized the spring bloom using chlorophyll estimates from satellite ocean color observations. Assumptions regarding the chlorophyll-to-carbon ratio within phytoplankton and vertical structure of biogeochemical variables lead to uncertainty in satellite-based estimates of phytoplankton carbon biomass. Here, we revisit the characterizations of the bloom using optical backscatter from biogeochemical floats deployed by the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) and Southern Ocean and Climate Field Studies with Innovative Tools (SOCLIM) projects. In particular, by providing a three-dimensional view of the seasonal cycle, we are able to identify basin-wide bloom characteristics corresponding to physical features; biomass is low in Ekman downwelling regions north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) region, and high within and south of the ACC.



Earth Sciences, Oceanography, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Southern Ocean, primary production, Argo, phytoplankton, spring bloom


Published: 2019-07-16 21:36


GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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