Global assessment of ocean carbon export by combining satellite observations and food-web models Public Deposited

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  • The export of organic carbon from the surface ocean by sinking particles is an important, yet highly uncertain, component of the global carbon cycle. Here we introduce a mechanistic assessment of the global ocean carbon export using satellite observations, including determinations of net primary production and the slope of the particle size spectrum, to drive a food-web model that estimates the production of sinking zooplankton feces and algal aggregates comprising the sinking particle flux at the base of the euphotic zone. The synthesis of observations and models reveals fundamentally different and ecologically consistent regional-scale patterns in export and export efficiency not found in previous global carbon export assessments. The model reproduces regional-scale particle export field observations and predicts a climatological mean global carbon export from the euphotic zone of ~6 Pg C yr⁻¹. Global export estimates show small variation (typically <10%) to factor of 2 changes in model parameter values. The model is also robust to the choices of the satellite data products used and enables interannual changes to be quantified. The present synthesis of observations and models provides a path for quantifying the ocean’s biological pump.
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  • Siegel, D. A., K. O. Buesseler, S. C. Doney, S. F. Sailley, M. J. Behrenfeld, and P. W. Boyd (2014), Global assessment of ocean carbon export by combining satellite observations and food-web models, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 28, 181–196. doi:10.1002/2013GB004743
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  • 28
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  • 3
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  • D.A.S. and K.O.B. acknowledge support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NNX11AF63G). S.C.D. and S.F.S. acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation through the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) (NSF EF-0424599).
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