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Letter. Diatom carbon export enhanced by silicate upwelling in the northeast Atlantic

Letter. Diatom carbon export enhanced by silicate upwelling in the northeast Atlantic
Letter. Diatom carbon export enhanced by silicate upwelling in the northeast Atlantic
Diatoms are unicellular or chain-forming phytoplankton that use silicon (Si) in cell wall construction. Their survival during periods of apparent nutrient exhaustion enhances carbon sequestration in frontal regions of the northern North Atlantic. These regions may therefore have a more important role in the 'biological pump' than they have previously been attributed1, but how this is achieved is unknown. Diatom growth depends on silicate availability, in addition to nitrate and phosphate2, 3, but northern Atlantic waters are richer in nitrate than silicate4. Following the spring stratification, diatoms are the first phytoplankton to bloom2, 5. Once silicate is exhausted, diatom blooms subside in a major export event6, 7. Here we show that, with nitrate still available for new production, the diatom bloom is prolonged where there is a periodic supply of new silicate: specifically, diatoms thrive by 'mining' deep-water silicate brought to the surface by an unstable ocean front. The mechanism we present here is not limited to silicate fertilization; similar mechanisms could support nitrate-, phosphate- or iron-limited frontal regions in oceans elsewhere.
0028-0836
728-732
Allen, John T.
b251a62b-f443-4591-b695-9aa8c4d73741
Brown, Louise
72b27329-a2b7-46d8-8480-2f7f54cfc1c4
Sanders, Richard
02c163c1-8f5e-49ad-857c-d28f7da66c65
Moore, C. Mark
7ec80b7b-bedc-4dd5-8924-0f5d01927b12
Mustard, Alexander
5c66b191-45f2-4e84-b4c4-d36c57926f17
Fielding, Sophie
b6810aca-528b-41d9-b23e-3e05647c5fab
Lucas, Mike
d79f01e9-8218-4e0f-ab74-371ca73c6896
Rixen, Michel
72a18112-0cca-45f7-9e0c-1ecfa13d5f5f
Savage, Graham
ec2c5456-9fa7-4456-be7a-0a3f8d4baf0d
Henson, Stephanie
d6532e17-a65b-4d7b-9ee3-755ecb565c19
Mayor, Dan
e5024296-3f62-4f62-a64d-e24278c09daa
Allen, John T.
b251a62b-f443-4591-b695-9aa8c4d73741
Brown, Louise
72b27329-a2b7-46d8-8480-2f7f54cfc1c4
Sanders, Richard
02c163c1-8f5e-49ad-857c-d28f7da66c65
Moore, C. Mark
7ec80b7b-bedc-4dd5-8924-0f5d01927b12
Mustard, Alexander
5c66b191-45f2-4e84-b4c4-d36c57926f17
Fielding, Sophie
b6810aca-528b-41d9-b23e-3e05647c5fab
Lucas, Mike
d79f01e9-8218-4e0f-ab74-371ca73c6896
Rixen, Michel
72a18112-0cca-45f7-9e0c-1ecfa13d5f5f
Savage, Graham
ec2c5456-9fa7-4456-be7a-0a3f8d4baf0d
Henson, Stephanie
d6532e17-a65b-4d7b-9ee3-755ecb565c19
Mayor, Dan
e5024296-3f62-4f62-a64d-e24278c09daa

Allen, John T., Brown, Louise, Sanders, Richard, Moore, C. Mark, Mustard, Alexander, Fielding, Sophie, Lucas, Mike, Rixen, Michel, Savage, Graham, Henson, Stephanie and Mayor, Dan (2005) Letter. Diatom carbon export enhanced by silicate upwelling in the northeast Atlantic. Nature, 437 (7059), 728-732. (PMID:16193051)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Diatoms are unicellular or chain-forming phytoplankton that use silicon (Si) in cell wall construction. Their survival during periods of apparent nutrient exhaustion enhances carbon sequestration in frontal regions of the northern North Atlantic. These regions may therefore have a more important role in the 'biological pump' than they have previously been attributed1, but how this is achieved is unknown. Diatom growth depends on silicate availability, in addition to nitrate and phosphate2, 3, but northern Atlantic waters are richer in nitrate than silicate4. Following the spring stratification, diatoms are the first phytoplankton to bloom2, 5. Once silicate is exhausted, diatom blooms subside in a major export event6, 7. Here we show that, with nitrate still available for new production, the diatom bloom is prolonged where there is a periodic supply of new silicate: specifically, diatoms thrive by 'mining' deep-water silicate brought to the surface by an unstable ocean front. The mechanism we present here is not limited to silicate fertilization; similar mechanisms could support nitrate-, phosphate- or iron-limited frontal regions in oceans elsewhere.

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Published date: 29 September 2005

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 21057
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/21057
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 8dde81e1-6123-4e96-9f41-abbd3f1f69b1

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Date deposited: 09 Mar 2006
Last modified: 01 Sep 2017 10:41

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Contributors

Author: John T. Allen
Author: Louise Brown
Author: Richard Sanders
Author: C. Mark Moore
Author: Alexander Mustard
Author: Sophie Fielding
Author: Mike Lucas
Author: Michel Rixen
Author: Graham Savage
Author: Dan Mayor

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