Annual net community production is the amount of biologically produced carbon available for export to the deep ocean. Ocean Extremes program researchers developed a novel approach to estimate annual net community production in the Southern Ocean, using robotic biogeochemical Argo (BGC-Argo) floats.

Using our improved method, we calculated total Southern Ocean annual net community production to be 3.89 billion tonnes of carbon per year. This estimate is much larger than previous estimates, which suggests a more important role than previously thought for the Southern Ocean in regulating oceanic carbon storage, atmospheric CO2 exchange and climate.

A BGC-Argo float is deployed from RV Investigator in January 2021. Credit: Jakob Weis.
Su, J., Schallenberg, C., Rohr, T., Strutton, P.G., Phillips, H.E., 2022. New estimates of Southern Ocean annual net community production revealed by BGC-Argo floats. Geophysical Research Letters 49, e2021GL097372.