Productivity Tracers

Photosynthesis in the upper ocean plays a critical role in the global biogeochemical cycling of carbon and oxygen. Accurate assessment of the metabolic rates of ecosystems in the upper ocean is thus a central challenge to understanding biogeochemical fluxes and their controls in the marine environment.  Photosynthesis leaves and imprint on the stable isotope abundances of dissolved oxygen from which we can infer rates of primary production

The triple oxygen isotopic (TOI) composition of dissolved oxygen has, over the last decade, become widely adopted as a powerful new tracer of upper ocean biological productivity.  Interpreting mixed layer TOI signatures in terms of a rate of gross productivity requires assumptions be made about mixed layer and biological dynamics.  We have incorporated the TOI tracer system into 1D and global (Community Earth System Model; CESM) models to improve interpretation of the TOI tracer.


WHOI: R.H.R. Stanley, S.C. Doney
U.WASHINGTON: H.I. Palevsky, P.D. Quay


NOAA CPO: A Novel Constraint for Biogeochemical Modeling: Triple Oxygen Isotopes
Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (CMORE)

Related Publications:

Manning, C.C., R.H.R. Stanley, D.P. Nicholson, J. Smith, J.T. Pennington. M. Fewings, M. Squibb, F. Chavez (2017), Impact of recently upwelled water on productivity investigated using in situ and incubation-based methods in Monterey Bay. J. Geophys. Res., Oceans. 2016JC012306 doi:10.1002/2016JC012306.

Palevsky, H. I., P. D. Quay, and D. P. Nicholson (2016), Discrepant estimates of primary and export production from satellite algorithms, a biogeochemical model, and geochemical tracer measurements in the North Pacific Ocean, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43(16), 2016GL070226, doi:10.1002/2016GL070226.

Manning, C. C., R. H. R. Stanley, D. P. Nicholson, and M. E. Squibb (2016), Quantifying air-sea gas exchange using noble gases in a coastal upwelling zone, IOP Conf. Ser. Earth Environ. Sci., 35(1), 012017, doi:10.1088/1755-1315/35/1/012017.

Palevsky, H. I., P. D. Quay, D. E. Lockwood, and D. P. Nicholson (2016), The annual cycle of gross primary production, net community production and export efficiency across the North Pacific Ocean, Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles, 2015GB005318, doi:10.1002/2015GB005318.

Nicholson, D., R. H. R. Stanley, and S. C. Doney (2014), The triple oxygen isotope tracer of primary productivity in a dynamic ocean model, Glob. Biogeochem. Cycles, 28(5), 2013GB004704, doi:10.1002/2013GB004704.

Nicholson, D., R. H. R Stanley, E. Barkan, D. M. Karl, B. Luz, P. Quay, S. Doney. (2012) Evaluating triple oxygen isotope estimates of gross primary production at the Hawaii Ocean Time-series and Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study sites. Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, C05012, doi:10.1029/2010JC006856.

Nicholson, D., (2011) Comment on: “Technical note: Consistent calculation of aquatic gross production from oxygen triple isotope measurements” by Kaiser (2011), Biogeosciences 8, 2993-2997. doi:10.5194/bg-8-2993-2011.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *