Oxygen Supersaturation in the Ocean: Biological Versus Physical Contributions

Science  09 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4785, pp. 199-202
DOI: 10.1126/science.235.4785.199


A method based on measurements of dissolved molecular nitrogen, molecular oxygen, and argon can distingish biological from physical contributions to oxygen supersaturation in the ocean. The derived values of biological O2 production can be used as a check on estimates of total organic productivity measured by instantaneous rates of carbon-14 assimilation. Application to the shallow summer O2 maxima in the North Pacific gyres shows that about 72% of the O2 supersaturation maximum at 28°N and about 86% of the maximum at 40°N are due to net photosynthetic production.