Substantial energy input to the mesopelagic ecosystem from the seasonal mixed-layer pump


The "mesopelagic" is the region of the ocean between about 100 and 1000 m that harbours one of the largest ecosystems and fish stocks on the planet1,2. This vastly unexplored ecosystem is believed to be mostly sustained by chemical energy, in the form of fast-sinking particulate organic carbon, supplied by the biological carbon pump3. Yet, this supply appears insufficient to match mesopelagic metabolic demands4-6. The mixed-layer pump is a physically-driven biogeochemical process7-11 that could further contribute to meet these energetic requirements. However, little is known about the magnitude and spatial distribution of this process at the global scale. Here we show that the mixed-layer pump supplies an important seasonal flux of organic carbon to the mesopelagic. By combining mixed-layer depths from Argo floats with satellite retrievals of particulate organic carbon, we estimate that this pump exports a global flux of about 0.3 Pg C yr-1 (range 0.1 - 0.5 Pg C yr-1). In high-latitude regions where mixed-layers are deep, this flux is on average 23%, but can be greater than 100% of the carbon supplied by fast sinking particles. Our results imply that a relatively large flux of organic carbon is missing from current energy budgets of the mesopelagic.

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@inproceedings{DallOlmo2016SubstantialEI, title={Substantial energy input to the mesopelagic ecosystem from the seasonal mixed-layer pump}, author={Giorgio Dall’Olmo and James Dingle and Luca Polimene and Robert J. W. Brewin and Herv{\'e} Claustre}, booktitle={Nature geoscience}, year={2016} }