Abundance, distribution and sinking rates of aggregates in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

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Marine Science


The vertical distribution and temporal changes in aggregate abundance and sizes were measured in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, during two field seasons, one in austral spring 1994 and one in early summer, 1995/96. Aggregate abundance, size and potential sinking rates were determined by photographic techniques. Measurements of water column parameters, including particulate organic carbon concentrations, were assessed simultaneously, as was the flux of organic matter with floating sediment traps. The numbers of aggregates (and to a lesser extent their size) increased with time, although there was substantial spatial variability in these variables at any point in time. Some aggregates appeared to sink extremely rapidly, and for these, our photographic measurements were able to estimate only a minimum sinking rate, which equaled 288 m d(-1). Estimates of aggregate organic carbon flux were compared to those determined by floating sediment traps. From these results, aggregate fluxes appear to have dominated the vertical export of organic matter from the euphotic zone. The genesis and flux of aggregates in the Ross Sea are the critical processes controlling the export of biogenic material from the surface layer. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Deep Sea Resarch Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers





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