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Iron from melting glaciers fuels the phytoplankton blooms in Amundsen Sea (Southern Ocean): Iron biogeochemistry
Gerringa, L.J.A.; Alderkamp, A.C.; Laan, P.; Thuróczy, C.E.; de Baar, H.J.W.; Mills, M.M.; van Dijken, G.L.; van Haren, H.; Arrigo, K.R. (2012). Iron from melting glaciers fuels the phytoplankton blooms in Amundsen Sea (Southern Ocean): Iron biogeochemistry. Deep-Sea Res., Part 2, Top. Stud. Oceanogr. 71-76: 16-31. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.03.007
In: Deep-Sea Research, Part II. Topical Studies in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford. ISSN 0967-0645, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Fe; Fe fluxes; Dissolved Fe; Total dissolvable Fe; Southern Ocean

Authors  Top 
  • Gerringa, L.J.A., more
  • Alderkamp, A.C.
  • Laan, P., more
  • Thuróczy, C.E., more
  • de Baar, H.J.W., more
  • Mills, M.M.
  • van Dijken, G.L.
  • van Haren, H., more
  • Arrigo, K.R.

Abstract
    Dissolved iron (DFe) and total dissolvable Fe (TDFe) were measured in January-February 2009 in Pine Island Bay, as well as in the Pine Island and Amundsen polynyas (Amundsen Sea, Southern Ocean). Iron (Fe) has been shown to be a limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth, even in the productive continental shelves surrounding the Antarctic continent. However, the polynyas of the Amundsen Sea harbor the highest concentrations of phytoplankton anywhere in Antarctica. Here we present data showing the likely sources of Fe that enable such a productive and long lasting phytoplankton bloom. Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) flows over the bottom of the shelf into the Pine Island Bay where DFe and TDFe were observed to increase from 0.2 to 0.4 nM DFe and from 0.3-4.0 to 7-14 nM TDFe, respectively. At the southern end of Pine Island Bay, the CDW upwelled under the Pine Island Glacier, bringing nutrients (including Fe) to the surface and melting the base of the glacier. Concentrations of DFe in waters near the Pine Island Glacier and the more westward lying Crosson, Dotson, and Getz Ice Shelves varied between 0.40 and 1.31 nM, depending on the relative magnitude of upwelling, turbulent mixing, and melting. These values represent maximum concentrations since associated ligands (which increase the solubility of Fe in seawater) were saturated with Fe (Thuroczy et al., 2012). The TDFe concentrations were very high compared to what previously has been measured in the Southern Ocean, varying between 3 and 106 nM. In the Pine Island Polynya, macronutrients and DFe were consumed by the phytoplankton bloom and concentrations were very low. We calculate that atmospheric dust contributed <1% of the Fe necessary to sustain the phytoplankton bloom, while vertical turbulent eddy diffusion from the sediment, sea ice melt, and upwelling contributed 1.0-3.8%, 0.7-2.9%, and 0.4-1.7%, respectively. The largest source was Fe input from the PIG, which could satisfy the total Fe demand by the phytoplankton bloom by lateral advection of Fe over a range of 150 km from the glacier. The role of TDFe as a phytoplankton nutrient remains unclear, perhaps representing an important indirect Fe source via dissolution and complexation by dissolved organic ligands (Gerringa et al., 2000; Borer et al., 2005).

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