Spatiotemporal Distribution of Dissolved Organic Matter of Various Types in Sea of Okhotsk

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Research of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and processes of its transformation in the ocean is essential from the viewpoint of assessment of phytoplankton cell photosynthesizing apparatus work efficiency, interaction between major climate-shaping factors and phytoplankton communities, and assessment of carbon cycle parameters in the upper ocean. First of all, an opportunity of using phytoplankton communities for influencing the dynamics of greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere depends on how upper ocean DOM fields will be reacting to the dramatic increase of chlorophyll-A concentration and how they will achieve the dynamic equilibrium in the carbon cycle.

DOM is a complex heterogeneous combination of aliphatic and aromatic polymers with the particle size not exceeding 0.2 μm. Originally, it was called “yellow matter” or “humic substance”. Later on, it was defined as dissolved organic matter (DOM) and this definition appears to be more precise. Though both definitions – DOM and humic substance – belong to the same chemical reaction of vegetal and algal decomposition, sources of their origin can differ. Thus, for instance, the use of the term “DOM” is restricted to the matter obtained in natural water, while humic substance can enter water environment from outside. The definition of DOM emphasizes more precisely that not only visible light is absorbed, but also ultraviolet emission, such as UV-A (λ=315–400 nm) and UV-B (λ=280–315 nm), which is a part of the radiated solar spectrum. Therefore, DOM is an essential constituent of the water system that controls penetration depth of harmful solar radiation into the water layer. Thus, the quantity of DOM on the water surface can have a strong impact on the level of harmful radiation that aquatic organisms receive. This can be of vital importance in areas with thinning stratospheric ozone layer in Polar Regions. Also, DOM is of vital ecological importance, being nutritious matter for phytoplankton, micro zooplankton, and bacteria. Thus, it contributes to the gas balance of the entire planet. Phytoplankton communities are estimated to be one of the chief sources of oxygen production on the planet, accounting for some 50% of all oxygen produced and absorbing as much CO2. Thus, even a small disruption of this production process or a long-term quantity decrease of ocean DOM can result in a considerable misbalance between oceanic and atmospheric CO2. All these aspects raise much interest in oceanic DOM research.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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