Modeling the Impact of Macrozooplankton on Carbon Export Production in the Southern Ocean

Karakus O., Voelker C., Iversen M., Hagen W., Wolf-Gladrow D., Fach B., ...More

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-OCEANS, vol.126, no.12, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 126 Issue: 12
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1029/2021jc017315


Macrozooplankton and its grazing pressure shape ecosystem structures and carbon pathways in the Southern Ocean. Here, we present the implementation of "polar macrozooplankton" as a plankton functional type and a related fast-sinking detritus class (fecal pellets) into the biogeochemical model REcoM-2. We use the model to assess major carbon pathways and ecosystem structure in the Southern Ocean south of 50 degrees S. The model represents zooplankton biomass and its spatial distribution in the Southern Ocean reasonably well in comparison to available biomass data. A distinct difference of our model from previous versions is the seasonal pattern of particle formation processes and ecosystem structures in the Southern Ocean. REcoM-2 now captures high zooplankton biomass and a typical shift from a dominance of phytodetrital aggregates in spring to zooplankton fecal pellets later in the year. At sites with high biomass of macrozooplankton, the transfer efficiency of particulate organic carbon can be as high as 50%, and the carbon content of the exported material increases. In our simulations, macrozooplankton is an important component of the Southern Ocean plankton community, contributing up to 0.12 Pg C per year (14%) to total modeled carbon export across 100 m depth. Macrozooplankton changes the phytoplankton composition and supports the recycling of macronutrients. These results support the important role of macrozooplankton such as krill in the Southern Ocean and have implications for the representation of Southern Ocean biogeochemical cycles in models.