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Science. 1999 Jan 15;283(5400):365-7.

Phytoplankton community structure and the drawdown of nutrients and CO2 in the southern ocean

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K. R. Arrigo, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 971.0, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA. D. H. Robinson. Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University, 3150 Paradise Drive, Post Office Box 855, Tiburon, CA 94920-


Data from recent oceanographic cruises show that phytoplankton community structure in the Ross Sea is related to mixed layer depth. Diatoms dominate in highly stratified waters, whereas Phaeocystis antarctica assemblages dominate where waters are more deeply mixed. The drawdown of both carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrate per mole of phosphate and the rate of new production by diatoms are much lower than that measured for P. antarctica. Consequently, the capacity of the biological community to draw down atmospheric CO2 and transport it to the deep ocean could diminish dramatically if predicted increases in upper ocean stratification due to climate warming should occur.

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