Diel carbon monoxide cycling in the upper Sargasso Sea near Bermuda at the onset of spring and in midsummer Academic Article uri icon


  • Rapid bio-oxidation of carbon monoxide (CO), a photoproduct of dissolved organic matter, results in diel cycles reflecting photochemical-biogeochemical-physical interactions. These cycles were characterized by time-series studies of hydrography, meteorology, insolation, optics, and CO concentration ([CO]). Diel patterns of near-surface [CO] generally varied little seasonally, despite different forcings. In summer 30% of CO was below the mixed layer (ML); ML depths and optics indicate that two-layer photochemistry is common elsewhere. [CO] decayed at similar rates in both isolated layers. In spring CO extended to 150 m, reflecting nocturnal mixing. Cruise-average profiles indicated a shallower ML defined by CO than that defined by density, illustrating short-lived CO’s sensitivity to recent mixing. Below the ML, [CO] dropped exponentially with depth on scales controlled by photoproduction in summer but mixing in spring. Mass-balance modeling of diurnal variations in CO column burden (CB) gave similar production rates in summer and spring (similar to 50 mu mol m(-2) d(-1) CO), but different biooxidation rates, 1.5 +/- 0.2 d(-1) (summer, 0 -50 m) and 0.52 -0.66 d(-1) (spring, 0 -200 m). Outgassing averaged 4% of bio-oxidation in summer and 14% in spring. Similar production and differing sinks resulted in different CBs: 39.3 mu mol m(-2) (summer) versus 94.9 mu mol m(-2) (spring). Insolation-normalized CO productions were 1.8 times those in the oligotrophic equatorial Pacific. Improved, well-blanked analyses found [CO] at 200 m always <0.1 nmol L-1 in summer, and usually in spring. Prior reports of [CO] systematically >= 0.2 nmol L-1 at depth in well-stratified, oxic blue waters may be high because of method artifacts.

publication date

  • March 2008