Identifying sources and transport pathways of iron in the Southern Ocean
(English)In: Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, ISSN 0967-0637Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Over large regions of the global ocean primary productivity is limited by the availability of dissolved iron. Changes in the supply of iron to these regions could have major impacts on primary productivity and the carbon cycle. One of the largest sources of dissolved iron to the ocean is thought to be from shelf sediments, and this source is often parameterized in biogeochemical models as a depth dependent iron flux through the seafloor. Using the knowledge that Southern Ocean surface waters are iron limited, we infer source regions of iron to the Southern Ocean by identifying where the most intense chlorophyll blooms develop. We further derive surface current patterns from satellite sea surface height fields to assess the role of the ocean circulation in transporting iron away from these source regions. We find a tight relationship between satellite chlorophyll concentrations and sea surface height. Large chlorophyll blooms develop on the shelf and where the western boundary currents detach from the continental shelves and turn eastward into the Southern Ocean. This is likely due to shelf supplied iron becoming entrained into western boundary currents and advected into the Southern Ocean along the Dynamical Subtropical Front. The most intense chlorophyll blooms are located along coastal margins of islands and continents. Blooms do not develop over submerged seamounts or plateaus in the open ocean. This suggests that shelf sediments in coastal regions act as large bioavailable iron sources to the Southern Ocean. We recommend that a more accurate method of parameterizing the shelf sediment iron flux could be to prescribe this flux only through grid cells neighboring coastlines. Finally, we hypothesize how changes in sea level during glacial-interglacial cycles may have altered the distribution of shelf sediment iron sources in the Southern Ocean and helped to drive export production anomalies in the Sub-Antarctic Zone.
Geochemistry Geosciences, Multidisciplinary Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Research subject Marine Geology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108739OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-108739DiVA: diva2:760330