Temperature effects on carbon-specific respiration rate and sinking velocity of diatom aggregates – potential implications for deep ocean export processes
Abstract. Most deep ocean carbon flux profiles show low and almost constant fluxes of particulate organic carbon (POC) in the deep ocean. However, the reason for the non-changing POC fluxes at depths is unknown. This study presents direct measurements of formation, degradation, and sinking velocity of diatom aggregates from laboratory studies performed at 15 °C and 4 °C during a three-week experiment. The average carbon-specific respiration rate during the experiment was 0.12 ± 0.03 at 15 °C, and decreased 3.5-fold when the temperature was lowered to 4 °C. No direct influence of temperature on aggregate sinking speed was observed. Using the remineralisation rate measured at 4 °C and an average particle sinking speed of 150 m d−1, calculated carbon fluxes were similar to those collected in deep ocean sediment traps from a global data set, indicating that temperature plays a major role for deep ocean fluxes of POC.