Articles | Volume 4, issue 2
22 Feb 2007
22 Feb 2007

The global marine phosphorus cycle: sensitivity to oceanic circulation

C. P. Slomp and P. Van Cappellen

Abstract. A new mass balance model for the coupled marine cycles of phosphorus (P) and carbon (C) is used to examine the relationships between oceanic circulation, primary productivity, and sedimentary burial of reactive P and particulate organic C (POC), on geological time scales. The model explicitly represents the exchanges of water and particulate matter between the continental shelves and the open ocean, and it accounts for the redox-dependent burial of POC and the various forms of reactive P (iron(III)-bound P, particulate organic P (POP), authigenic calcium phosphate, and fish debris). Steady state and transient simulations indicate that a slowing down of global ocean circulation decreases primary production in the open ocean, but increases that in the coastal ocean. The latter is due to increased transfer of soluble P from deep ocean water to the shelves, where it fuels primary production and causes increased reactive P burial. While authigenic calcium phosphate accounts for most reactive P burial ocean-wide, enhanced preservation of fish debris may become an important reactive P sink in deep-sea sediments during periods of ocean anoxia. Slower ocean circulation globally increases POC burial, because of enhanced POC preservation under anoxia in deep-sea depositional environments and higher primary productivity along the continental margins. In accordance with geological evidence, the model predicts increased accumulation of reactive P on the continental shelves during and following periods of ocean anoxia.

Final-revised paper