Biological Weighting Function for the Inhibition of Phytoplankton Photosynthesis by Ultraviolet Radiation

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Science  23 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5082, pp. 646-650
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5082.646


Severe reduction of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica has focused increasing concern on the biological effects of ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation (280 to 320 nanometers). Measurements of photosynthesis from an experimental system, in which phytoplankton are exposed to a broad range of irradiance treatments, are fit to an analytical model to provide the spectral biological weighting function that can be used to predict the short-term effects of ozone depletion on aquatic photosynthesis. Results show that UVA (320 to 400 nanometers) significantly inhibits the photosynthesis of a marine diatom and a dinoflagellate, and that the effects of UVB are even more severe. Application of the model suggests that the Antarctic ozone hole might reduce near-surface photosynthesis by 12 to 15 percent, but less so at depth. The experimental system makes possible routine estimation of spectral weightings for natural phytoplankton.