Annual nitrate drawdown observed by SOCCOM profiling floats and the relationship to annual net community production

Kenneth S. Johnson, Joshua N. Plant, John P. Dunne, Lynne D. Talley, Jorge Louis Sarmiento

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52 Scopus citations


Annual nitrate cycles have been measured throughout the pelagic waters of the Southern Ocean, including regions with seasonal ice cover and southern hemisphere subtropical zones. Vertically resolved nitrate measurements were made using in situ ultraviolet spectrophotometer (ISUS) and submersible ultraviolet nitrate analyzer (SUNA) optical nitrate sensors deployed on profiling floats. Thirty-one floats returned 40 complete annual cycles. The mean nitrate profile from the month with the highest winter nitrate minus the mean profile from the month with the lowest nitrate yields the annual nitrate drawdown. This quantity was integrated to 200 m depth and converted to carbon using the Redfield ratio to estimate annual net community production (ANCP) throughout the Southern Ocean south of 30°S. A well-defined, zonal mean distribution is found with highest values (3–4 mol C m−2 yr−1) from 40 to 50°S. Lowest values are found in the subtropics and in the seasonal ice zone. The area weighted mean was 2.9 mol C m−2 yr−1 for all regions south of 40°S. Cumulative ANCP south of 50°S is 1.3 Pg C yr−1. This represents about 13% of global ANCP in about 14% of the global ocean area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6668-6683
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


  • Southern Ocean
  • net community production
  • nitrate cycle
  • profiling floats


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