Microbial remineralization of particulate organic carbon in the ocean’s twilight zone
ABSTRACT: we characterized the microbial communities and proteomes of POC collected from the twilight zone at three contrasting sites in the northwest Pacific Ocean using a metaproteomic approach.Particle-attached bacteria, Alteromonadales, Rhodobacterales and Enterobacteriales, were the major remineralizers of POC in the twilight zone.
Project description:Abstract Collapse of permafrost coasts delivers large quantities of particulate organic carbon (POC) to Arctic coastal areas. With rapidly changing environmental conditions, sediment and organic carbon (OC) mobilization and transport pathways are also changing. Here, we assess the sources and sinks of POC in the highly dynamic nearshore zone of Herschel Island?Qikiqtaruk (Yukon, Canada). Our results show that POC concentrations sharply decrease, from 15.9 to 0.3 mg L?1, within the first 100–300 m offshore. Simultaneously, radiocarbon ages of POC drop from 16,400 to 3,600 14C years, indicating rapid settling of old permafrost POC to underlying sediments. This suggests that permafrost OC is, apart from a very narrow resuspension zone (<5 m water depth), predominantly deposited in nearshore sediments. While long?term storage of permafrost OC in marine sediments potentially limits biodegradation and its subsequent release as greenhouse gas, resuspension of fine?grained, OC?rich sediments in the nearshore zone potentially enhances OC turnover. Key Points Suspended particulate organic carbon (POC) sharply decreases in age and concentration within the nearshore zone Beyond a narrow resuspension zone, permafrost?derived OC dominates surface sediments, whereas much younger OC is found in the water column Permafrost?derived POC is rapidly removed from the water column, showing the critical role of nearshore dynamics for OC transport
Project description:The biological carbon pump drives a flux of particulate organic carbon (POC) through the ocean and affects atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. Short term, episodic flux events are hard to capture with current observational techniques and may thus be underrepresented in POC flux estimates. We model the potential hidden flux of POC originating from Antarctic krill, whose swarming behaviour could result in a major conduit of carbon to depth through their rapid exploitation of phytoplankton blooms and bulk egestion of rapidly sinking faecal pellets (FPs). Our model results suggest a seasonal krill FP export flux of 0.039 GT C across the Southern Ocean marginal ice zone, corresponding to 17-61% (mean 35%) of current satellite-derived export estimates for this zone. The magnitude of our conservatively estimated flux highlights the important role of large, swarming macrozooplankton in POC export and, the need to incorporate such processes more mechanistically to improve model projections.
Project description:Geochemical and stable isotope measurements in the anoxic marine zone (AMZ) off northern Chile during periods of contrasting oceanographic conditions indicate that microbial processes mediating sulfur and nitrogen cycling exert a significant control on the carbonate chemistry (pH, A<sub>T</sub>, DIC and pCO<sub>2</sub>) of this region. Here we show that in 2015, a large isotopic fractionation between DIC and POC, a DIC and N deficit in AMZ waters indicate the predominance of in situ dark carbon fixation by sulfur-driven autotrophic denitrification in addition to anammox. In 2018, however, the fractionation between DIC and POC was significantly lower, while the total alkalinity increased in the low-pH AMZ core, suggesting a predominance of heterotrophic processes. An isotope mass-balance model demonstrates that variations in the rates of sulfur- and nitrogen-mediated carbon fixation in AMZ waters contribute ~7-35% of the POC exported to deeper waters. Thus, dark carbon fixation should be included in assessments of future changes in carbon cycling and carbonate chemistry due to AMZ expansion.
Project description:Mesoscale eddies in the subtropical oligotrophic ocean are ubiquitous and play an important role in nutrient supply and oceanic primary production. However, it is still unclear whether these mesoscale eddies can efficiently transfer CO2 from the atmosphere to deep waters via biological pump because of the sampling difficulty due to their transient nature. In 2007, particulate organic carbon (POC) fluxes, measured below the euphotic zone at the edge of warm eddy were 136-194 mg-C m-2 d-1 which was greatly elevated over that (POC flux = 26-35 mg-C m-2 d-1) determined in the nutrient-depleted oligotrophic waters in the Western North Pacific (WNP). In 2010, higher POC fluxes (83-115 mg-C m-2 d-1) were also observed at the boundary of mesoscale eddies in the WNP. The enhanced POC flux at the edge of eddies was mainly attributed to both large denuded diatom frustules and zooplankton fecal pellets based on scanning electron microscopy (SEM) examination. The result suggests that mesoscale eddies in the oligotrophic waters in the subtropical WNP can efficiently increase the oceanic carbon export flux and the eddy edge is a crucial conduit in carbon sequestration to deep waters.
Project description:Biological oceanic processes, principally the surface production, sinking and interior remineralization of organic particles, keep atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> lower than if the ocean was abiotic. The remineralization length scale (RLS, the vertical distance over which organic particle flux declines by 63%, affected by particle respiration, fragmentation and sinking rates) controls the size of this effect and is anomalously high in oxygen minimum zones (OMZ). Here we show in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific OMZ 70% of POC remineralization is due to microbial respiration, indicating that the high RLS is the result of lower particle fragmentation by zooplankton, likely due to the almost complete absence of zooplankton particle interactions in OMZ waters. Hence, the sensitivity of zooplankton to ocean oxygen concentrations can have direct implications for atmospheric carbon sequestration. Future expansion of OMZs is likely to increase biological ocean carbon storage and act as a negative feedback on climate change.
Project description:Particulate organic carbon (POC) produced in the surface ocean sinks through the water column and is respired at depth, acting as a primary vector sequestering carbon in the abyssal ocean. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are sensitive to the length (depth) scale over which respiration converts POC back to inorganic carbon, because shallower waters exchange with the atmosphere more rapidly than deeper ones. However, estimates of this carbon regeneration length scale and its spatiotemporal variability are limited, hindering the ability to characterize its sensitivity to environmental conditions. Here, we present a zonal section of POC fluxes at high vertical and spatial resolution from the GEOTRACES GP16 transect in the eastern tropical South Pacific, based on normalization to the radiogenic thorium isotope <sup>230</sup>Th. We find shallower carbon regeneration length scales than previous estimates for the oligotrophic South Pacific gyre, indicating less efficient carbon transfer to the deep ocean. Carbon regeneration is strongly inhibited within suboxic waters near the Peru coast. Canonical Martin curve power laws inadequately capture POC flux profiles at suboxic stations. We instead fit these profiles using an exponential function with flux preserved at depth, finding shallow regeneration but high POC sequestration below 1,000 m. Both regeneration length scales and POC flux at depth closely track the depths at which oxygen concentrations approach zero. Our findings imply that climate warming will result in reduced ocean carbon storage due to expanding oligotrophic gyres, but opposing effects on ocean carbon storage from expanding suboxic waters will require modeling and future work to disentangle.
Project description:Growing evidence suggests substantial quantities of particulate organic carbon (POC) produced in surface waters reach abyssal depths within days during episodic flux events. A 29-year record of in situ observations was used to examine episodic peaks in POC fluxes and sediment community oxygen consumption (SCOC) at Station M (NE Pacific, 4,000-m depth). From 1989 to 2017, 19% of POC flux at 3,400 m arrived during high-magnitude episodic events (?mean + 2 ?), and 43% from 2011 to 2017. From 2011 to 2017, when high-resolution SCOC data were available, time lags between changes in satellite-estimated export flux (EF), POC flux, and SCOC on the sea floor varied between six flux events from 0 to 70 days, suggesting variable remineralization rates and/or particle sinking speeds. Half of POC flux pulse events correlated with prior increases in EF and/or subsequent SCOC increases. Peaks in EF overlying Station M frequently translated to changes in POC flux at abyssal depths. A power-law model (Martin curve) was used to estimate abyssal fluxes from EF and midwater temperature variation. While the background POC flux at 3,400-m depth was described well by the model, the episodic events were significantly underestimated by ?80% and total flux by almost 50%. Quantifying episodic pulses of organic carbon into the deep sea is critical in modeling the depth and intensity of POC sequestration and understanding the global carbon cycle.
Project description:The biological carbon pump, which transports particulate organic carbon (POC) from the surface to the deep ocean, plays an important role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. We know very little about geographical variability in the remineralization depth of this sinking material and less about what controls such variability. Here we present previously unpublished profiles of mesopelagic POC flux derived from neutrally buoyant sediment traps deployed in the North Atlantic, from which we calculate the remineralization length scale for each site. Combining these results with corresponding data from the North Pacific, we show that the observed variability in attenuation of vertical POC flux can largely be explained by temperature, with shallower remineralization occurring in warmer waters. This is seemingly inconsistent with conclusions drawn from earlier analyses of deep-sea sediment trap and export flux data, which suggest lowest transfer efficiency at high latitudes. However, the two patterns can be reconciled by considering relatively intense remineralization of a labile fraction of material in warm waters, followed by efficient downward transfer of the remaining refractory fraction, while in cold environments, a larger labile fraction undergoes slower remineralization that continues over a longer length scale. Based on the observed relationship, future increases in ocean temperature will likely lead to shallower remineralization of POC and hence reduced storage of CO2 by the ocean.
Project description:Mid-depth North Pacific waters are rich in nutrients and respired carbon accumulated over centuries. The rates and pathways with which these waters exchange with the surface ocean are uncertain, with divergent paradigms of the Pacific overturning: one envisions bottom waters upwelling to 1.5 km depth; the other confines overturning beneath a mid-depth Pacific shadow zone (PSZ) shielded from mean advection. Here global inverse modelling reveals a PSZ where mean ages exceed 1400 years with overturning beneath. The PSZ is supplied primarily by Antarctic and North-Atlantic ventilated waters diffusing from below and from the south. Half of PSZ waters re-surface in the Southern Ocean, a quarter in the subarctic Pacific. The abyssal North Pacific, despite strong overturning, has mean re-surfacing times also exceeding 1400 years because of diffusion into the overlying PSZ. These results imply that diffusive transports - distinct from overturning transports - are a leading control on Pacific nutrient and carbon storage.
Project description:Carbon captured by marine organisms helps sequester atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> , especially in shallow coastal ecosystems, where rates of primary production and burial of organic carbon (OC) from multiple sources are high. However, linkages between the dynamics of OC derived from multiple sources and carbon sequestration are poorly understood. We investigated the origin (terrestrial, phytobenthos derived, and phytoplankton derived) of particulate OC (POC) and dissolved OC (DOC) in the water column and sedimentary OC using elemental, isotopic, and optical signatures in Furen Lagoon, Japan. Based on these data analysis, we explored how OC from multiple sources contributes to sequestration via storage in sediments, water column sequestration, and air-sea CO<sub>2</sub> exchanges, and analyzed how the contributions vary with salinity in a shallow seagrass meadow as well. The relative contribution of terrestrial POC in the water column decreased with increasing salinity, whereas autochthonous POC increased in the salinity range 10-30. Phytoplankton-derived POC dominated the water column POC (65-95%) within this salinity range; however, it was minor in the sediments (3-29%). In contrast, terrestrial and phytobenthos-derived POC were relatively minor contributors in the water column but were major contributors in the sediments (49-78% and 19-36%, respectively), indicating that terrestrial and phytobenthos-derived POC were selectively stored in the sediments. Autochthonous DOC, part of which can contribute to long-term carbon sequestration in the water column, accounted for >25% of the total water column DOC pool in the salinity range 15-30. Autochthonous OC production decreased the concentration of dissolved inorganic carbon in the water column and thereby contributed to atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> uptake, except in the low-salinity zone. Our results indicate that shallow coastal ecosystems function not only as transition zones between land and ocean but also as carbon sequestration filters. They function at different timescales, depending on the salinity, and OC sources.