Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
Biogeosciences, 10, 5049–5060, 2013
Biogeosciences, 10, 5049–5060, 2013

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. Hofmann1,2, E. T. Peltzer1, and P. G. Brewer1 A. F. Hofmann et al.
  • 1Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039-9644, USA
  • 2German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, Pfaffenwaldring 38–40, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany

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