22 Jun 2022
22 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

DMS cycling in the Sea Surface Microlayer in the South West Pacific: 2. Processes and Rates

Alexia D. Saint-Macary1,2, Andrew Marriner1, Stacy Deppeler1, Karl Safi3, and Cliff S. Law1,2 Alexia D. Saint-Macary et al.
  • 1National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research, Wellington, 6021, New Zealand
  • 2Department of Marine Science, University of Otago, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand
  • 3National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Hamilton, 3216, New Zealand

Abstract. As the sea surface microlayer (SML) is the uppermost oceanic layer and differs in biogeochemical composition to the underlying subsurface water (SSW), it is important to determine whether processes in the SML modulate gas exchange, particularly for climate reactive gases. Enrichment of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and its precursor dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) have been reported in the SML, but it remains unclear how this is maintained whilst DMS is lost to the atmosphere. To examine this, a comprehensive study of DMS source and sink processes, including production, consumption and net response to irradiance, were carried out in deck-board incubations of SML water at five locations in different water masses in the South West Pacific east of New Zealand. Net consumption of DMSP and production of DMS in the light and dark occurred at all sites. The net response of DMS and DMSP to irradiance varied between stations but was always lower than conversion of DMSP to DMS in the dark. In addition, DMS photolytic turnover was slower than reported elsewhere, which was unexpected given high light exposure in the SML incubations. Although no relationships were apparent between DMS process rates and biogeochemical variables, including chlorophyll-a, bacteria and phytoplankton group, net bacterial DMSP consumption was correlated with DMSP and DMS concentrations, and also dinoflagellate and Gymnodinium spp. biomass, supporting the findings of a companion study that dinoflagellates play an important role in DMS cycling in the SML. However, net DMS production rates and accumulation were low relative to calculated air-sea DMS loss, confirming that the DMS cycling within the SML is unlikely to influence regional DMS emissions.

Alexia D. Saint-Macary et al.

Status: open (until 17 Aug 2022)

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Alexia D. Saint-Macary et al.

Alexia D. Saint-Macary et al.


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Short summary
To understand how dimethyl sulfide (DMS) enrichment is maintained in the sea surface microlayer (SML) while DMS is lost to the atmosphere, deck-board incubation was carried out to determine DMS sources and sinks. Our results showed that the phytoplankton composition played an essential role in DMS processes in the SML. However, all accumulated DMS processes were lower than the calculated air-sea DMS flux, confirming the results from the companion paper.