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Journal Article

Enhanced carbon overconsumption in response to increasing temperatures during a mesocosm experiment


Dittmar,  T.
Marine Geochemistry Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Taucher, J., Schulz, K. G., Dittmar, T., Sommer, U., Oschlies, A., & Riebesell, U. (2012). Enhanced carbon overconsumption in response to increasing temperatures during a mesocosm experiment. Biogeosciences, 9, 3531-3545.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C8CF-5
Increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide are projected to lead to an increase in sea surface temperatures, potentially impacting marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling. Here we conducted an indoor mesocosm experiment with a natural plankton community taken from the Baltic Sea in summer. We induced a plankton bloom via nutrient addition and followed the dynamics of the different carbon and nitrogen pools for a period of one month at temperatures ranging from 9.5 °C to 17.5 °C, representing a range of ±4 °C relative to ambient temperature. The uptake of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and the net build-up of both particulate (POC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) were all enhanced at higher temperatures and almost doubled over a temperature gradient of 8 °C. Furthermore, elemental ratios of carbon and nitrogen (C : N) in both particulate and dissolved organic matter increased in response to higher temperatures, both reaching very high C : N ratios of > 30 at +4 °C. Altogether, these observations suggest a pronounced increase in excess carbon fixation in response to elevated temperatures. Most of these findings are contrary to results from similar experiments conducted with plankton populations sampled in spring, revealing large uncertainties in our knowledge of temperature sensitivities of key processes in marine carbon cycling. Since a major difference to previous mesocosm experiments was the dominant phytoplankton species, we hypothesize that species composition might play an important role in the response of biogeochemical cycling to increasing temperatures.