IdeaFest: Interdisciplinary Journal of Creative Works and Research from Cal Poly Humboldt


Nutrient coupling describes a process where the biogeochemical cycles of two elements are linked by being incorporated similarly into biomass. This paper uses data from the GEOTRACES GP16 cruise (Eastern Pacific Zonal Transect) to investigate the relationship between certain macronutrients generally coupled to trace elements in terms of their oceanic distributions with the notable exception of in an oxygen minimum zone: cadmium-phosphate and zinc-silicate. There are many methods applied to oceanographic data to correlate analyte concentrations; while they are often presented independently in literature, here we attempt to use them in conjunction for a more thorough interpretation. By compiling 1) depth profiles, 2) differences between the concentrations after applying a scale factor, and 3) direct comparisons of the analytes, greater insight into the correlations between coupled nutrients is achievable. Because the goal of studying this phenomenon is to learn about the underlying causes of these biogeochemical cycles, being able to characterize the decoupling in a way that is easy to visualize is extremely important to the efficacy of this area of research. Variation between results is elaborated on as a caution towards carefully considered and consistent data manipulation. Calculating a difference between the coupled analytes after applying a scaling factor provided the most useful information about decoupling.


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