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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seasonal variability of particulate organic radiocarbon in the northeast Pacific Ocean

  • Author(s): Druffel, Ellen R. M
  • Bauer, James E
  • Williams, Peter M
  • Griffin, Sheila
  • Wolgast, David
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

We present Δ14C measurements of particulate organic carbon (POC) collected on four cruises at our time series site (station M) in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We observe a large gradient with depth in the suspended POC Δ14C values (124–160‰). These profiles display lower Δ14C values (by 20–30‰) in samples between 2500 m and the bottom during June 1992 and July 1993 than those during February and October 1992. Values of Δ14C in sinking POC from deep-moored sediment trap collections suggest a semiannual trend that displays lower overall Δ14C in material collected during periods of high flux. A limited number of Δ14C measurements of small swimmers picked from the trap 650 m above bottom are similar to surface Δ14C measurements of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and suspended POC, indicating a surface carbon source. Overall, we postulate that the major process causing lower Δ14C values of deep suspended and sinking POC is sorption (or biological incorporation) of “old” DOC onto particulate matter. There appears to be a higher ratio of DOC sorbed to sinking particulate matter at times of high flux (late spring and early fall) that can be thought of as a “stripping out” of DOC from the water column. The DIC Δ14C display a small seasonal variation in the surface waters and is not the sole source of the observed seasonality in the POC Δ14C signals.

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