Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 5, 259–276, 2013

Special issue: MAREDAT – Towards a world atlas of marine plankton functional...

Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 5, 259–276, 2013

  12 Jul 2013

12 Jul 2013

Global marine plankton functional type biomass distributions: coccolithophores

C. J. O'Brien1, J. A. Peloquin1, M. Vogt1, M. Heinle2, N. Gruber1, P. Ajani3, H. Andruleit4, J. Arístegui5, L. Beaufort6, M. Estrada7, D. Karentz8, E. Kopczyńska9, R. Lee10, A. J. Poulton11, T. Pritchard12, and C. Widdicombe13 C. J. O'Brien et al.
  • 1Environmental Physics Group, Institute for Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, ETH Zürich, Universitätsstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory for Global Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
  • 3Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, 2109, Australia
  • 4Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR), Geozentrum Hannover, Stilleweg 2, 30655 Hannover, Germany
  • 5Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global (IOCAG), Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • 6Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement (CEREGE), CNRS/Aix-Marseille Univ., Ave. Louis Philibert, 13545 Aix en Provence, France
  • 7Institut de Ciencies del MAR (CSIC), Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta, 3749, 08003 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
  • 8University of San Francisco, College of Arts and Sciences, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
  • 9Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Department of Antarctic Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Ustrzycka 10/12, 02-141 Warsaw, Poland
  • 10Centre for Environmental Science, EPA Victoria, Ernest Jones Drive, Macleod VIC 3085, Australia
  • 11National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK
  • 12Waters and Coastal Science Section, Office of Environment and Heritage, P.O. Box A290, Sydney South NSW 1232, Australia
  • 13Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK

Abstract. Coccolithophores are calcifying marine phytoplankton of the class Prymnesiophyceae. They are considered to play an import role in the global carbon cycle through the production and export of organic carbon and calcite. We have compiled observations of global coccolithophore abundance from several existing databases as well as individual contributions of published and unpublished datasets. We make conservative estimates of carbon biomass using standardised conversion methods and provide estimates of uncertainty associated with these values. The quality-controlled database contains 57 321 individual observations at various taxonomic levels. This corresponds to 11 503 observations of total coccolithophore abundance and biomass. The data span a time period of 1929–2008, with observations from all ocean basins and all seasons, and at depths ranging from the surface to 500 m. Highest biomass values are reported in the North Atlantic, with a maximum of 127.2 μg C L−1. Lower values are reported for the Pacific (maximum of 20.0 μg C L−1) and Indian Ocean (up to 45.2 μg C L−1). Maximum biomass values show peaks around 60° N and between 40 and 20° S, with declines towards both the equator and the poles. Biomass estimates between the equator and 40° N are below 5 μg C L−1. Biomass values show a clear seasonal cycle in the Northern Hemisphere, reaching a maximum in the summer months (June–July). In the Southern Hemisphere the seasonal cycle is less evident, possibly due to a greater proportion of low-latitude data. The original and gridded datasets can be downloaded from Pangaea (doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.785092).