B.B. Cael, Kelsey Bisson, Maureen Conte, Manon T. Duret, Christopher L. Follett, Stephanie A. Henson, Makio C. Honda, Morten H. Iversen, David M. Karl, Richard S. Lampitt, Colleen B. Mouw, Frank Muller‐Karger, Corinne A. Pebody, Kenneth L. Smith Jr., David Talmy (2021), Open ocean particle flux variability from surface to seafloor, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1029/2021GL092895
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.