Bio-optical characterization of subsurface chlorophyll maxima in the Mediterranean Sea from a Biogeochemical-Argo float database

Abstract : As commonly observed in oligotrophic stratified waters, a subsurface (or deep) chlorophyll maximum (SCM) frequently characterizes the vertical distribution of phyto-plankton chlorophyll in the Mediterranean Sea. Occurring far from the surface layer "seen" by ocean colour satellites , SCMs are difficult to observe with adequate spatio-temporal resolution and their biogeochemical impact remains unknown. Biogeochemical-Argo (BGC-Argo) profiling floats represent appropriate tools for studying the dynamics of SCMs. Based on data collected from 36 BGC-Argo floats deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, our study aims to address two main questions. (1) What are the different types of SCMs in the Mediterranean Sea? (2) Which environmental factors control their occurrence and dynamics? First, we analysed the seasonal and regional variations in the chlorophyll concentration (Chl a), particulate backscattering coefficient (b bp), a proxy of the particulate organic carbon (POC) and environmental parameters (photosynthetically active radiation and nitrates) within the SCM layer over the Mediter-ranean Basin. The vertical profiles of Chl a and b bp were then statistically classified and the seasonal occurrence of each of the different types of SCMs quantified. Finally, a case study was performed on two contrasted regions and the environmental conditions at depth were further investigated to understand the main controls on the SCMs. In the eastern basin, SCMs result, at a first order, from a photoacclima-tion process. Conversely, SCMs in the western basin reflect a biomass increase at depth benefiting from both light and nitrate resources. Our results also suggest that a variety of intermediate types of SCMs are encountered between these two endmember situations.
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Marie Barbieux, Julia Uitz, Bernard Gentili, Orens Pasqueron de Fommervault, Alexandre Mignot, et al.. Bio-optical characterization of subsurface chlorophyll maxima in the Mediterranean Sea from a Biogeochemical-Argo float database. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2019, 16 (6), pp.1321-1342. ⟨10.5194/bg-16-1321-2019⟩. ⟨hal-02098475⟩

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