June 14, 2021

GIL

Daily Global New Media

Particles at the ocean surface and seafloor aren’t so different

2 min read
Particles at the ocean surface and seafloor aren't so different


Particles at the ocean surface and seafloor aren’t so different
An Oceanic Flux Program time series sediment trap deployed at 3,200-meter depth comes on board the R/V Atlantic Explorer. Credit: J. C. Weber

Although scientists often assume that random variations in scientific data fit symmetrical, bell-shaped normal distributions, nature isn’t always so tidy. In some cases, a skewed distribution, like the log-normal probability distribution, provides a better fit. Researchers previously found that primary production by ocean phytoplankton and carbon export via particles sinking from the surface are consistent with log-normal distributions.

In a new study, Cael et al. discovered that fluxes at the seafloor also fit log-normal distributions. The team analyzed data from deep-sea sediment traps at six different sites, representing diverse nutrient and oxygen statuses. They found that the log-normal distribution didn’t just fit organic carbon flux; it provided a simple scaling relationship for and opal fluxes as well.

Uncovering the log-normal distribution enabled the researchers to tackle a longstanding question: Do nutrients reach the benthos—life at the seafloor—via irregular pulses or a constant rain of particles? The team examined the shape of the distribution and found that 29% of the highest measurements accounted for 71% of the organic carbon flux at the seafloor, which is less imbalanced than the 80:20 benchmark specified by the Pareto principle. Thus, although high-flux pulses do likely provide nutrients to the benthos, they aren’t the dominant source.

The findings will provide a simple way for researchers to explore additional links between net primary production at the and deep-sea .


Fishes contribute roughly 1.65 billion tons of carbon in feces and other matter annually


More information:
B. B. Cael et al, Open Ocean Particle Flux Variability From Surface to Seafloor, Geophysical Research Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1029/2021GL092895

B. B. Cael et al, Can Rates of Ocean Primary Production and Biological Carbon Export Be Related Through Their Probability Distributions?, Global Biogeochemical Cycles (2018). DOI: 10.1029/2017GB005797

Provided by
Eos

Citation:
Particles at the ocean surface and seafloor aren’t so different (2021, June 11)
retrieved 11 June 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-particles-ocean-surface-seafloor.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × two =