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Journal Articles Global Biogeochemical Cycles Year : 2023

Concepts Toward a Global Mechanistic Mapping of Ocean Carbon Export

Abstract

Abstract The gravitational sinking of organic debris from ocean ecosystems is a dominant mechanism of the biological carbon pump (BCP) that regulates the global climate. The fraction of primary production exported downward, the e‐ratio, is an important but poorly constrained BCP metric. In mid‐ and high‐latitude oceans, seasonal and local variations of sinking particle fluxes strongly modulate the e‐ratio. These locally specific e‐ratio variations and their ecological foundations are here encapsulated in the term “export systems” (ES). ES have been partly characterized for a few ocean locations but remain largely ignored over most of the ocean surface. Here, in a fully conceptual approach and with the primary aim to understand rather than to estimate ocean carbon export, we combine biogeochemical (BGC) modeling with satellite observations to map ES at fine spatio‐temporal scales. We identify four plausible ES with distinct e‐ratio seasonalities across mid‐ and high‐latitude oceans. The ES map confirms the outlines of traditional BGC provinces and unveils new boundaries indicating where (and how) the annual relationship between carbon export and production changes markedly. At six sites where ES features can be partially inferred from in situ data, we test our approach and propose key ecological processes driving carbon export. In the light of our findings, a re‐examination of 1,841 field‐based e‐ratios could challenge the conventional wisdom that e‐ratios change strongly with latitude, suggesting a possible seasonal artifact caused by the timing of observations. By deciphering carbon export mechanistically, our conceptual ES map provides timely directions to emergent ocean robotic explorations of the BCP.
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hal-04221859 , version 1 (29-09-2023)

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Emmanuel Laurenceau-Cornec, Mathieu Mongin, Thomas Trull, Matthieu Bressac, Emma Cavan, et al.. Concepts Toward a Global Mechanistic Mapping of Ocean Carbon Export. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2023, 37 (9), ⟨10.1029/2023GB007742⟩. ⟨hal-04221859⟩
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