The cycle of phosphorus in the western basin of the North Atlantic
Seiwell, Harry Richard
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The importance of phosphorus for organic production in the sea appears to have been recognized first by Brandt (1899) and the earlier determinations of this element in the coastal seas of northern Europe (Brandt, 1920; Raben, 1920; Mathews, 1917) suggested a correlation between seasonal variation of phosphate and growth of phytoplankton. These earlier determinations were later shown to be too high (Atkins, 1926, a) and did not indicate the complete exhaustion of phosphate from the water, so it was not until several years later that Atkins (1923), employing the rapid and more accurate colorimetric ceruleo-molybdate method of Deniges, illustrated the complete dependence of algal growth on phosphate (in the English Channel) and thus established the foundation for modern studies of marine chemical fertility. The beginning of our knowledge of phosphate content of the open ocean may, as far as is known to me, also be attributed to Atkins (1926, a) and even though these early results were frequently somewhat vitiated by storing of the samples before analyses, they represented the order of magnitude of phosphate concentration in the sea. Within recent years phosphate determination has become a component part of the program of most deep sea investigations and much general information on its distribution and variation in the open ocean has been brought to light.
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