Geophysical Research Letters
Carbon export to the deep sea is conventionally attributed to the sinking of open ocean phytoplankton. Here, we report a Langmuir supercell event driven by high winds across the shallow Great Bahama Bank that organized benthic non-attached macroalgae, Colpomenia sp., into visible windrows on the seafloor. Ocean color satellite imagery obtained before and after the windrows revealed a 588 km2 patch that rapidly shifted from highly productive macroalgae to bare sand. We assess a number of possible fates for this macroalgae and contend that this event potentially transported negatively buoyant macroalgae to the deep Tongue of the Ocean in a pulsed export of > 7 x 1010 g of carbon. This is equivalent to the daily carbon flux of phytoplankton biomass in the pelagic tropical North Atlantic and 0.2-0.8% of daily carbon flux from the global ocean. Coastal banks and bays are highly productive ecosystems that may contribute substantially to carbon export to the deep sea. Citation: Dierssen, H. M., R. C. Zimmerman, L. A. Drake, and D. J. Burdige (2009), Potential export of unattached benthic macroalgae to the deep sea through wind-driven Langmuir circulation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L04602, doi: 10.1029/2008GL036188.
Original Publication Citation
Dierssen, H.M., Zimmerman, R.C., Drake, L.A., & Burdige, D.J. (2009). Potential export of unattached benthic macroalgae to the deep sea through wind-driven Langmuir circulation. Geophysical Research Letters, 36(L04602), 1-5. doi: 10.1029/2008gl036188
Dierssen, H. M.; Zimmerman, Richard C.; Drake, Lisa A.; and Burdige, David J., "Potential Export of Unattached Benthic Macroalgae to the Deep Sea Through Wind Driven Langmuir Circulation" (2009). OEAS Faculty Publications. 66.