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Free Content Constraining bubble dynamics and mixing with dissolved gases: Implications for productivity measurements by oxygen mass balance

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We used a dynamic mixed layer model to determine carbon export by the oxygen mass balance method from a time series of O2/Ar, N2/Ar and Ne measurements collected at station ALOHA near Hawaii from July 2000 to June 2001. The inert gas measurements constrain the flux of oxygen into the mixed layer from small, collapsing bubbles (injection) to be greater than or equal to the flux from larger bubbles (exchange), with mean estimates of the ratio in the range of 1–2. We also show that monthly observations of temperature and inert gases cannot constrain the rate of diapycnal mixing at this location, because of uncertainties in air-sea heat flux estimates and bubble dynamics. Organic carbon export from the mixed layer calculated from our dataset was 1.1 ± 0.5 mol C m-2 yr-1, with most of the error deriving from uncertainties in the parameterization of diffusive gas exchange with wind speed. Our estimates of carbon export from the zone beneath the mixed layer but still in the euphotic zone ranged from 0 to 0.6 mol C m-2 yr-1 as the rate of background diapycnal mixing was increased from 0.1 to 1.0 cm2 s-1. We conclude that the oxygen mass balance method has errors of about a factor of two in areas similar to the subtropical North Pacific, with the main uncertainties deriving from mixing rates and the parameterization of diffusive gas exchange.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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