Temporal Variations in the Dissolved Nutrient Stocks in the Surface Water of the Western North Atlantic Ocean

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By INSAF S. BABIKER, MOHAMED A. A. MOHAMED, KAORI KOMAKI, KEIICHI OHTA, KIKUO KATO.

Abstracts

Changes in patterns of undetectability and molar ratios of dissolved nutrients in the euphotic zone of the oligotrophic western North Atlantic Ocean were investigated utilizing the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) data set of the US Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS). Our aim was to examine the temporal dynamics of nutrient stocks over a decade (1989~1998) and to gain insight into the interactions between the different biotic and abiotic factors underlying BATS. Patterns of nutrient undetectability clearly revealed the depleted nature of the nutrients in surface water at the BATS location, particularly phosphorous. The N:P ratio was consistently far above the nominal Redfield ratio (mean, 38.5) but was significantly lower during the 1993~1994 period (22.1). Over the same period the proportion of samples depleted in N only increased while the proportion of samples depleted in P only decreased. This indicates an overall reduction of N relative to P in the surface water at BATS during the 1993~1994 period, the reasons for this anomaly, though, are not clear. The correlation analysis between the biotic and abiotic variables at BATS has indicated some interesting relationships that can help understand some of the parameters affecting nutrient stocks in the euphotic zone and their consequent impacts on marine biota. Although nutrient stocks in the oligotrophic environment are limited, they might be subject to interannual variation that may become anomalous in some cases. These variations might underlay significant feedback mechanisms by affecting marine productivity, the prime factor controlling the sequestration of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans.

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