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Creators/Authors contains: "Cael, B. B."

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  1. Abstract

    Little is known about Southern Ocean under‐ice phytoplankton, despite their suspected potential—ice and stratification conditions permitting—to produce blooms. We use a distributional approach to ask how Southern Ocean sea ice and under‐ice phytoplankton characteristics are related, circumventing the dearth of co‐located ice and phytoplankton data. We leverage all available Argo float profiles, together with freeboard (height of sea ice above sea level) and lead (ice fractures yielding open water) data from ICESat‐2, to describe co‐variations over time. We calculate moments of the probability distributions of maximum chlorophyll, particulate backscatter, the depths of these maxima, freeboard, and ice thickness. Argo moments correlate significantly with freeboard variance, lead fraction, and mixed layer depth, implying that sea ice dynamics drive plankton by modulating how much light they receive. We discuss ecological implications in the context of data limitations and advocate for diagnostic models and field studies to test additional processes influencing under‐ice phytoplankton.

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  2. Abstract

    The ocean's “biological pump” significantly modulates atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. However, the complexity and variability of processes involved introduces uncertainty in interpretation of transient observations and future climate projections. Much research has focused on “parametric uncertainty,” particularly determining the exponent(s) of a power‐law relationship of sinking particle flux with depth. Varying this relationship's functional form introduces additional “structural uncertainty.” We use an ocean biogeochemistry model substituting six alternative remineralization profiles fit to a reference power‐law curve, to systematically characterize structural uncertainty, which, in atmospheric pCO2terms, is roughly 50% of parametric uncertainty associated with varying the power‐law exponent within its plausible global range, and similar to uncertainty associated with regional variation in power‐law exponents. The substantial contribution of structural uncertainty to total uncertainty highlights the need to improve characterization of biological pump processes, and compare the performance of different profiles within Earth System Models to obtain better constrained climate projections.

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  3. Abstract

    The particle size distribution (PSD) is a fundamental property that influences all aspects of phytoplankton ecology. In particular, the size (e.g., diameterd[μm]) and sinking speedw(m/day) of individual particles are inextricable, but much remains unknown about howdandware related quantitatively for bulk particulate matter. There is significant interest in inferring sinking mass fluxes from PSDs, but doing so requires knowing how both mass andwscale withd. To this end, using both laser diffraction and imaging, we characterized for the first time both sinking and suspended PSDs in the oligotrophic North Pacific subtropical gyre. Comparing these PSDs via a power law parameterization indicates an approximately linearw‐to‐dscaling, suggesting particles are more fractal‐like than sphere‐like in this respect. This result is robust across multiple instruments, depths, and sediment trap deployments and is made comparatively precise by a high degree of replication.

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  4. Abstract

    We address the role of freshwater forcing in the modern day ocean. Specifically, we ask the question of whether an amplification of the global freshwater forcing pattern leads to a strengthening or weakening of the steady‐state Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). While the role of freshwater forcing in the AMOC has received much attention, this question remains unresolved, in part because past studies have primarily investigated idealized models, large regime shifts away from the modern ocean state, or coupled atmosphere–ocean simulations on shorter timescales than required for the deep ocean to equilibrate. Here we study the AMOC's sensitivity at equilibrium to small perturbations in the magnitude of the global freshwater fluxes in simulations performed with a realistically configured ocean circulation model. Our results robustly suggest that for the equilibrium state of the modern ocean, freshwater fluxes strengthen the AMOC, in the sense that an amplification of the existing freshwater flux‐forcing pattern leads to a strengthening of the AMOC and vice versa. A simple physical argument explains these results: the North Atlantic is anomalously salty at depth and increased freshwater fluxes act to amplify that salinity pattern, resulting in enhanced AMOC transport.

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  5. Abstract The blooming cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and its viruses (EhVs) are a model for density-dependent virulent dynamics. EhVs commonly exhibit rapid viral reproduction and drive host death in high-density laboratory cultures and mesocosms that simulate blooms. Here we show that this system exhibits physiology-dependent temperate dynamics at environmentally relevant E. huxleyi host densities rather than virulent dynamics, with viruses switching from a long-term non-lethal temperate phase in healthy hosts to a lethal lytic stage as host cells become physiologically stressed. Using this system as a model for temperate infection dynamics, we present a template to diagnose temperate infection in other virus–host systems by integrating experimental, theoretical, and environmental approaches. Finding temperate dynamics in such an established virulent host–virus model system indicates that temperateness may be more pervasive than previously considered, and that the role of viruses in bloom formation and decline may be governed by host physiology rather than by host–virus densities. 
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  6. Abstract

    The sinking of carbon fixed via net primary production (NPP) into the ocean interior is an important part of marine biogeochemical cycles. NPP measurements follow a log‐normal probability distribution, meaning NPP variations can be simply described by two parameters despite NPP's complexity. By analyzing a global database of open ocean particle fluxes, we show that this log‐normal probability distribution propagates into the variations of near‐seafloor fluxes of particulate organic carbon (POC), calcium carbonate, and opal. Deep‐sea particle fluxes at subtropical and temperate time‐series sites follow the same log‐normal probability distribution, strongly suggesting the log‐normal description is robust and applies on multiple scales. This log‐normality implies that 29% of the highest measurements are responsible for 71% of the total near‐seafloor POC flux. We discuss possible causes for the dampening of variability from NPP to deep‐sea POC flux, and present an updated relationship predicting POC flux from mineral flux and depth.

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