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Highly variable iron content modulates iceberg-ocean fertilisation and potential carbon export


Hopwood, MJ and Carroll, D and Hofer, J and Achterberg, EP and Meire, L and Le Moigne, FAC and Bach, LT and Eich, C and Sutherland, DA and Gonzalez, HE, Highly variable iron content modulates iceberg-ocean fertilisation and potential carbon export, Nature Communications, 10 Article 5261. ISSN 2041-1723 (2019) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13231-0


Marine phytoplankton growth at high latitudes is extensively limited by iron availability. Icebergs are a vector transporting the bioessential micronutrient iron into polar oceans. Therefore, increasing iceberg fluxes due to global warming have the potential to increase marine productivity and carbon export, creating a negative climate feedback. However, the magnitude of the iceberg iron flux, the subsequent fertilization effect and the resultant carbon export have not been quantified. Using a global analysis of iceberg samples, we reveal that iceberg iron concentrations vary over 6 orders of magnitude. Our results demonstrate that, whilst icebergs are the largest source of iron to the polar oceans, the heterogeneous iron distribution within ice moderates iron delivery to offshore waters and likely also affects the subsequent ocean iron enrichment. Future marine productivity may therefore be not only sensitive to increasing total iceberg fluxes, but also to changing iceberg properties, internal sediment distribution and melt dynamics.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:iceberg, melting, carbon export, primary production, iron fertilisation
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Biological oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Bach, LT (Dr Lennart Bach)
ID Code:136058
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:18
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-11-28
Last Modified:2019-12-12
Downloads:20 View Download Statistics

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