Biogeochemical evidence of large diapycnal diffusivity associated with the subtropical mode water of the North Pacific

Chiho Sukigara, Toshio Suga, Toshiro Saino, Katsuya Toyama, Daigo Yanagimoto, Kimio Hanawa, Nobuyuki Shikama

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35 Citations (Scopus)


A profiling float equipped with a fluorimeter, a dissolved oxygen (DO) sensor, and temperature and salinity sensors was deployed in the subtropical mode water (STMW) formation region of the North Pacific. It acquired quasi-Lagrangian, 5-day-interval time-series records from March to July 2006. The time-series distribution of chlorophyll showed a sustained and sizable subsurface maximum at 50-100 m, just above the upper boundary of the STMW, throughout early summer (May-July). The DO concentration in this lower euphotic zone (50-100 m) was almost constant and supersaturated in the same period, becoming more supersaturated with time. On the other hand, the DO concentration at 100-150 m near the upper boundary of the STMW decreased much more slowly compared with the main layer of STMW below 150 m, even though oxygen consumption by organisms was expected to be larger in the former depth range. The small temporal variations of DO in the lower euphotic zone and near the upper boundary of the STMW were reasonably explained by downward oxygen transport because of large diapycnal diffusion near the top of the STMW. Assuming that the oxygen consumption rate at 100-150 m was the same as that in the main layer of STMW and compensated by the downward oxygen flux, the diapycnal diffusivity was estimated to be 1.7 × 10-4 m2 s-1. Nitrate transport into the euphotic zone by the same large diffusion was estimated to be 0.8 mmol N m-2 day-1. All of the transported nitrate could have been used for photosynthesis by the phytoplankton; net community production was estimated to be 5.3 mmol C m-2 day-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Feb


  • Deep chlorophyll maximum
  • Diapycnal diffusivity
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Profiling float
  • Subtropical mode water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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