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Jackson, GA, Checkley DM, Dagg M.  2015.  Settling of particles in the upper 100 m of the ocean detected with autonomous profiling floats off California. Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers. 99:75-86.   10.1016/j.dsr.2015.02.001   AbstractWebsite

We have deployed an autonomous profiling float, the SOLOPC, to sample the concentration of particles larger than 100 mu m off the California coast at approximately hourly intervals down to at least 100 m for periods as long as 12 d. We used the data to estimate total aggregate concentrations hourly at 2-m depth intervals, studying the dynamics of particle sedimentation in this difficult-to-sample region. We find that even over time scales of a week, sedimentation is highly variable, with detectable sedimentation events on about one quarter of the days. Most of these observations were along the southwest coast of the United States, a region known for its coastal upwelling and not necessarily representative of more oligotrophic regions. The aggregate settling rates that we estimate, on the order of 50 m d(-1), are consistent with in situ measurements and with rates calculated from coagulation models. The time interval between observations and their vertical resolution constrain the velocities that can be measured. To capture particle settling with velocities less than the 100 m d(-1) that is usually reported for near surface aggregates requires a sampling interval no more than about 0.25 d with a 2 m vertical resolution. This technique provides a powerful new tool to study the dynamics of particles and their sedimentation near the ocean surface, where export starts. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Petrik, CM, Jackson GA, Checkley JDM.  2013.  Aggregates and their distributions determined from LOPC observations made using an autonomous profiling float. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers.   10.1016/j.dsr.2012.12.009   AbstractWebsite

The vertical flux of particles in the ocean drives the movement of organic carbon to the deep ocean. We have been studying the distribution and flux of these particles using the SOLOPC, a profiling Lagrangian (SOLO) float with a Laser Optical Particle Counter (LOPC). We have been able to distinguish between aggregate-like and zooplankton-like particles with diameters > 2 mm but needed a way to separate the smaller particles into aggregates and zooplankton. Observations included a lognormal-shaped fraction in the normalized volume distribution similar to that observed in results for simulations of particles in the euphotic zone. By fitting a lognormal distribution to the volume spectrum of particles with diameters ≤ 2 mm , we have been successful at making a separation of marine snow material from other, presumably living, particles. The particle volumes derived using the separations are positively correlated with fluorescence, particulate organic carbon, and the volume of larger particles classified as aggregate-like, which supports the conclusion that these particles are truly aggregates, in some cases derived from phytoplankton. The residual volumes (total less the above fit) are highly correlated with the volumes of large, zooplankton-like particles. Downward velocities of the aggregate fraction calculated from time series of particle profiles are consistent with previous estimates of particle settling rates ( 20 – 70 m d − 1 ) . We now have a tool to estimate aggregate distributions, properties, and vertical fluxes in the euphotic zone, including when and where they change.

Checkley, DM, Davis RE, Herman AW, Jackson GA, Beanlands B, Regier LA.  2008.  Assessing plankton and other particles in situ with the SOLOPC. Limnology and Oceanography. 53:2123-2136.   10.4319/lo.2008.53.5_part_2.2123   AbstractWebsite

We combined a Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer float with a Laser Optical Plankton Counter (LOPC) and a fluorometer to make an autonomous biological profiler, the SOLOPC. The instrument senses plankton and other particles over a size range of 100 mm to 1 cm in profiles to 300 m in depth and sends data ashore via satellite. Objects sensed by the LOPC include aggregates and zooplankton, the larger of which can be distinguished from one another by their transparency. We hypothesized that the diel production of particles and their loss by sinking and grazing are reflected in the change of the particle distribution. We present data from four deployments of the SOLOPC off California. Particle volume was maximal at the base of the surface mixed layer and correlated with chlorophyll a fluorescence. In a 3-d deployment in 2005, particle volume was greatest in the early evening and smallest in the morning, and average particle size increased with depth. Eigenvector analysis of the particle volume distribution as a function of diameter for each of the deployments yielded size peaks characteristic of planktonic crustaceans. Ship-based measurements showed that the abundance of opaque particles of 1.1-1.7 mm equivalent spherical diameter was positively correlated with copepods of this size and simultaneously collected in nets. This relationship was used with SOLOPC data to estimate the distribution of large copepods, which were most abundant beneath the depth of maximal particle flux, estimated from particle size and published sinking rates. Our data are consistent with a model with diel production of particles and their loss by sinking and grazing.

Gonzalez-Quiros, R, Checkley DM.  2006.  Occurrence of fragile particles inferred from optical plankton counters used in situ and to analyze net samples collected simultaneously. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 111   10.1029/2005jc003084   AbstractWebsite

[1] We hypothesized that the optical plankton counter (OPC) senses particles in situ that are not collected by nets and analyzed in the laboratory. An OPC was deployed in situ between 1998 and 2004 in the mouth of a bongo net with 505-mu m-mesh nets in the upper 210 m at stations in the California Current Region. Here we compare paired data sets from the OPC in situ and the OPC analysis in the laboratory of the simultaneously collected net samples for four seasons of 2 years. We restricted our analysis to particle sizes 1.26 - 6.35 mm equivalent spherical diameter (ESD), a size class shown from the lab OPC data to be retained efficiently by the net. On average, 4 (3) times more particles by number (volume) were sensed in situ by the OPC than sensed in net collections by the OPC in the lab. These values varied an order of magnitude among the eight cruises examined. Time of day, distance offshore, season, year, chlorophyll a concentration, and Brunt-Vaisala frequency each explained significant variation in these differences. The excess of particles sensed in situ over that measured in the net samples was due primarily to smaller particles in the 1.26 - 6.35 mm ESD range. We infer that the particles measured by the OPC in situ but not in the lab were fragile and thus not collected by the net. We hypothesize that these fragile particles are primarily aggregates and abandoned houses of larvaceans.