N2 fixation in eddies of the eastern tropical South Pacific Ocean

Carolin R. Löscher, Annie Bourbonnais, Julien Dekaezemacker, Chawalit N. Charoenpong, Mark A. Altabet, Hermann W. Bange, Rena Czeschel, Chris Hoffmann, Ruth Schmitz
2016 Biogeosciences  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Mesoscale eddies play a major role in controlling ocean biogeochemistry. By impacting nutrient availability and water column ventilation, they are of critical importance for oceanic primary production. In the eastern tropical South Pacific Ocean off Peru, where a large and persistent oxygen-deficient zone is present, mesoscale processes have been reported to occur frequently. However, investigations into their biological activity are mostly based on model
more » ... on model simulations, and direct measurements of carbon and dinitrogen (N<sub>2</sub>) fixation are scarce.<br><br>We examined an open-ocean cyclonic eddy and two anticyclonic mode water eddies: a coastal one and an open-ocean one in the waters off Peru along a section at 16°<span class="thinspace"></span>S in austral summer 2012. Molecular data and bioassay incubations point towards a difference between the active diazotrophic communities present in the cyclonic eddy and the anticyclonic mode water eddies.<br><br>In the cyclonic eddy, highest rates of N<sub>2</sub> fixation were measured in surface waters but no N<sub>2</sub> fixation signal was detected at intermediate water depths. In contrast, both anticyclonic mode water eddies showed pronounced maxima in N<sub>2</sub> fixation below the euphotic zone as evidenced by rate measurements and geochemical data. N<sub>2</sub> fixation and carbon (C) fixation were higher in the young coastal mode water eddy compared to the older offshore mode water eddy. A co-occurrence between N<sub>2</sub> fixation and biogenic N<sub>2</sub>, an indicator for N loss, indicated a link between N loss and N<sub>2</sub> fixation in the mode water eddies, which was not observed for the cyclonic eddy. The comparison of two consecutive surveys of the coastal mode water eddy in November 2012 and December 2012 also revealed a reduction in N<sub>2</sub> and C fixation at intermediate depths along with a reduction in chlorophyll by half, mirroring an aging effect in this eddy. Our data indicate an important role for anticyclonic mode water eddies in stimulating N<sub>2</sub> fixation and thus supplying N offshore.</p>
doi:10.5194/bg-13-2889-2016 fatcat:nvonjq36trealngl3mmri36oim