TERRAPUB Journal of Oceanography

Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 59 (No. 5), pp. 663-670, 2003

El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Related Variations in Particulate Export Fluxes in the Western and Central Equatorial Pacific

Hodaka Kawahata1,2* and Lallan Prasad Gupta1

1Institute for Marine Resources and Environment, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), 1-1-1 Higashi, Tsukuba 305-8567, Japan
2Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-8578, Japan

(Received 29 June 2002; in revised form 12 September 2002; accepted 19 September 2002)

Abstract: Time-series data from sediment trap moorings intermittently deployed during 1991-1999 show that the fluxes of biogenic material (carbonate, opal and organic matter, including amino acids) and other related parameters are temporally and spatially distinct across the Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP). These variations resulted from the El Niño and La Niña conditions, which alternately prevailed over the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the mooring deployments. The westernmost WPWP (a hemipelagic region) recorded relatively high average total mass and amino acid fluxes during the El Niño event. This was in sharp contrast to the eastern part of the WPWP (oligotrophic and weak upwelling regions) which recorded higher flux values during the La Niña event. Settling particulate organic matter was rich in labile components (amino acids) during La Niña throughout the study area. Relative molar ratios of aspartic acid to b-alanine together with relative molar content of non-protein amino acids (b-alanine and g-aminobutyric acid) suggested that organic matter degradation was more intense during La Niña relative to that during El Niño in the WPWP. This study clearly shows that during an El Niño event the well documented decrease in export flux in the easternmost equatorial Pacific is accompanied by a significant increase in export flux in the westernmost equatorial Pacific Ocean.

*Corresponding author E-mail: h.kawahata@aist.go.jp

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