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Southern Ocean phytoplankton stimulated by wildfire emissions and sustained by iron recycling


Weis, J and Schallenberg, C and Chase, Z and Bowie, AR and Wojtasiewicz, B and Perron, MMG and Mallet, MD and Strutton, PG, Southern Ocean phytoplankton stimulated by wildfire emissions and sustained by iron recycling, Geophysical Research Letters, 49, (11) Article e2021GL097538. ISSN 0094-8276 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2022. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, ( which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

DOI: doi:10.1029/2021GL097538


Large ash plumes emitted by the 20192020 Australian wildfires were associated with a widespread phytoplankton bloom in the iron-limited Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. In this study, we used satellite observations and aerosol reanalysis products to study the regional phytoplankton community response to wildfire emissions. The bloom was stimulated by pyrogenic iron fertilization and coincided with elevated cellular pigment concentrations, increased photochemical efficiency, and apparent community structural shifts. Physiological anomalies were consistent with previously observed phytoplankton responses to iron stress relief and persisted for up to 9 months. Supported by a regional iron budget, we conclude that the bloom was sustained by iron recycling and episodic inputs of pyrogenic and dust-borne mineral iron. The continuous regeneration of iron was likely facilitated by the bloom's large size, mitigating edge dilution effects, as well as enhanced bioavailability of pyrogenic and mineral iron due to atmospheric and chemical processing during long-range transport.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Southern Ocean, phytoplankton, wildfire emissions, iron recycling
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Chemical oceanography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Weis, J (Mr Jakob Weis)
UTAS Author:Schallenberg, C (Dr Christina Schallenberg)
UTAS Author:Chase, Z (Professor Zanna Chase)
UTAS Author:Bowie, AR (Professor Andrew Bowie)
UTAS Author:Wojtasiewicz, B (Dr Bozena Wojtasiewicz)
UTAS Author:Perron, MMG (Miss Morgane Perron)
UTAS Author:Mallet, MD (Dr Marc Mallet)
UTAS Author:Strutton, PG (Professor Peter Strutton)
ID Code:150790
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP190103504)
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-06-30
Last Modified:2022-11-03
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