National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Oxygen utilization and organic carbon remineralization in the upper water column of the Pacific Ocean

Feely, R.A., C.L. Sabine, R. Schlitzer, J.L. Bullister, S. Mecking, and D. Greeley

J. Oceanogr., 60(1), 45–52, doi: 10.1023/B:JOCE.0000038317.01279.aa (2004)

As a part of the JGOFS synthesis and modeling project, researchers have been working to synthesize the WOCE/JGOFS/DOE/NOAA global CO survey data to better understand carbon cycling processes in the oceans. Working with international investigators we have compiled a Pacific Ocean data set with over 35,000 unique samples analyzed for at least two carbon species, oxygen, nutrients, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) tracers, and hydrographic parameters. We use these data here to estimate in situ oxygen utilization rates (OUR) and organic carbon remineralization rates within the upper water column of the Pacific Ocean. OURs are derived from the observed apparent oxygen utilization (AOU) and the water age estimates based on CFCs in the upper water and natural radiocarbon in deep waters. The rates are generally highest just below the euphotic zone and decrease with depth to values that are much lower and nearly constant in water deeper than 1200 m. OURs ranged from about 0.02-10 µmol kg yr in the upper water masses from about 100-1000 m, and averaged = 0.10 µmol kg yr in deep waters below 1200 m. The OUR data can be used to directly estimate organic carbon remineralization rates using the C:O Redfield ratio given in Anderson and Sarmiento (1994). When these rates are integrated we obtain an estimate of 5.3 ± 1 Pg C yr for the remineralization of organic carbon in the upper water column of the Pacific Ocean.

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