Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
Research article
25 Jul 2013
Research article |  | 25 Jul 2013

Kinetic bottlenecks to respiratory exchange rates in the deep-sea – Part 1: Oxygen

A. F. Hofmann, E. T. Peltzer, and P. G. Brewer

Abstract. Ocean warming is now reducing dissolved oxygen concentrations, which can pose challenges to marine life. Oxygen limits are traditionally reported simply as a static concentration threshold with no temperature, pressure or flow rate dependency. Here we treat the oceanic oxygen supply potential for heterotrophic consumption as a dynamic molecular exchange problem analogous to familiar gas exchange processes at the sea surface. A combination of the purely physico-chemical oceanic properties temperature, hydrostatic pressure, and oxygen concentration defines the ability of the ocean to provide the oxygen supply to the external surface of a respiratory membrane. This general oceanic oxygen supply potential is modulated by further properties such as the diffusive boundary layer thickness to define an upper limit to oxygen supply rates. While the true maximal oxygen uptake rate of any organism is limited by gas transport either across the respiratory interface of the organism itself or across the diffusive boundary layer around an organism, controlled by physico-chemical oceanic properties, it can never be larger than the latter. Here, we define and calculate quantities that describe this upper limit to oxygen uptake posed by physico-chemical properties around an organism and show examples of their oceanic profiles.

Final-revised paper