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234Th in surface waters: Distribution of particle export flux across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and in the Weddell Sea during the GEOTRACES expedition ZERO and DRAKE
Rutgers van der Loeff, M.; Cai, P.H.H.; Stimac, I.; Bracher, A.; Middag, R.; Klunder, M.B.; van Heuven, S.M.A.C. (2011). 234Th in surface waters: Distribution of particle export flux across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and in the Weddell Sea during the GEOTRACES expedition ZERO and DRAKE. Deep-Sea Res., Part 2, Top. Stud. Oceanogr. 58(25-26): 2749-2766. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.02.004
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part II. Topical Studies in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0645, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Thorium isotopes; Trace elements; Carbon cycle; Algal blooms; Exportproduction; GEOTRACES; Southern Ocean; Antarctic Circumpolar Current

Authors  Top 
  • Rutgers van der Loeff, M.
  • Cai, P.H.H.
  • Stimac, I.
  • Bracher, A.
  • Middag, R., more
  • Klunder, M.B., more
  • van Heuven, S.M.A.C.

Abstract
    As part of the GEOTRACES Polarstern expedition ANTXXIV/3 (ZERO and DRAKE) we have measured the vertical distribution of Th-234 on sections through the Antarctic Circumpolar Current along the zero meridian and in Drake Passage and on an EW section through the Weddell Sea. Steady state export fluxes of Th-234 from the upper 100 m, derived from the depletion of Th-234 with respect to its parent U-238, ranged from 621 +/- 105 to 1773 +/- 90 dpm m(-2) d(-1). This Th-234 flux was converted into an export flux of organic carbon ranging from 3.1 to 13.2 mmol C m(-2) d(-1) (2.1-9.0 mmol C m(-2) d(-1)) using POC/Th-234 ratio of bulk (respectively > 50 mu m) suspended particles at the export depth (100 m). Non-steady state fluxes assuming zero flux under ice cover were up to 23% higher. In addition, particulate and dissolved Th-234 were measured underway in high resolution in the surface water with a semi-automated procedure. Particulate Th-234 in surface waters is inversely correlated with light transmission and pCO(2) and positively with fluorescence and optical backscatter and is interpreted as a proxy for algal biomass. High resolution underway mapping of particulate and dissolved Th-234 in surface water shows clearly where trace elements are absorbed by plankton and where they are exported to depth. Quantitative determination of the export flux requires the full Th-234 profile since surface depletion and export flux become decoupled through changes in wind mixed layer depth and in contribution to export from subsurface layers.
    In a zone of very low algal abundance (54-58 degrees S at the zero meridian), confirmed by satellite Chl-a data, the lowest carbon export of the ACC was observed, allowing Fe and Mn to maintain their highest surface concentrations.
    An ice-edge bloom that had developed in December/January in the zone 60-65 degrees S as studied during the previous leg had caused a high export flux at 64.5 degrees S when we visited the area 2 months later (February/March). The ice-edge bloom had then shifted south to 65-69 degrees S evident from uptake of CO2 and dissolved Fe, Mn and Th-234, without causing export yet. In this way, the parallel analysis of Th-234 can help to explain the scavenging behavior of other trace elements.

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