Size-Fractionated Primary Productivity of Marine Phytoplankton

  • Thomas C. Malone
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 19)


Phytoplankton production beneath the oceanic surface is 60 g C m-2 yr-1 on average compared to 370 g C m-2 yr-1 by plants in the terrestrial biosphere (1,2). Low phytoplankton productivity over such a large area of the earth’s surface reflects the rapid attenuation of photosynthetically active radiation (PhAR) with depth by nonphotosynthetic materials in the ocean (3) and the tendency for nutrients to be regenerated below the euphotic zone (4). Physical limitations on the rate at which phytoplankton are able to attenuate PhAR and the rate at which nutrients are returned to the euphotic zone result in large differences in phytoplankton production between geographic regions. Thus, phytoplankton produce less than 50 g C m-2 yr-1 in most of the open ocean where the surface mixed layer is deep and nitrate flux to the euphotic zone is low compared to over 300 g C m-2 yr-1 in coastal regions where the mixed layer is shallow and nitrate flux to the euphotic zone is high.


Mixed Layer Depth Euphotic Zone Oceanic Environment Surface Mixed Layer Shelf Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas C. Malone
    • 1
  1. 1.Lamont-Doherty Geological ObservatoryPalisadesUSA

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