Analytical phytoplankton carbon measurements spanning diverse ecosystems

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 2015, 102 pp. 16 - 25
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Files in This Item:
Filename Description Size
ThumbnailAnalytical phytoplankton carbon....pdfPublished Version1.25 MB
Adobe PDF
© 2015 The Authors. The measurement of phytoplankton carbon (Cphyto) in the field has been a long-sought but elusive goal in oceanography. Proxy measurements of Cphyto have been employed in the past, but are subject to many confounding influences that undermine their accuracy. Here we report the first directly measured Cphyto values from the open ocean. The Cphyto samples were collected from a diversity of environments, ranging from Pacific and Atlantic oligotrophic gyres to equatorial upwelling systems to temperate spring conditions. When compared to earlier proxies, direct measurements of Cphyto exhibit the strongest relationship with particulate backscattering coefficients (bbp) (R2=0.69). Chlorophyll concentration and total particulate organic carbon (POC) concentration accounted for ~20% less variability in Cphyto than bbp. Ratios of Cphyto to Chl a span an order of magnitude moving across and within distinct ecosystems. Similarly, Cphyto:POC ratios were variable with the lowest values coming from productive temperate waters and the highest from oligotrophic gyres. A strong relationship between Cphyto and bbp is particularly significant because bbp is a property retrievable from satellite ocean color measurements. Our results, therefore, are highly encouraging for the global monitoring of phytoplankton biomass from space. The continued application of our Cphyto measurement approach will enable validation of satellite retrievals and contribute to an improved understanding of environmental controls on phytoplankton biomass and physiology.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: