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In this report, we describe a new model (the 'PhotoAcc' model) for estimating changes in the light-saturated rate of chlorophyll-normalized phytoplankton carbon fixation (Pbmax). The model is based on measurements conducted during the Atlantic Meridional Transect studies and the Bermuda Time Series program. The PhotoAcc model explained 64% to 82% of the observed variability in Pbmax for our data set, whereas none of the previously published Pbmax models described over the past 44 years explained any of the variance. The significance of this result is that a primary limiting factor for extracting ocean carbon fixation rates from satellite measurements of near surface chlorophyll has been errors in the estimate of Pbmax. Our new model should thus result in much improved calculations of oceanic photosynthesis and thus the role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle.
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