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Ocean Iron Cycle


Boyd, PW, Ocean Iron Cycle, Geophysical Monograph Series: Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Processes, American Geophysical Union, C Le Quere & S Saltzman (ed), Washington, DC, pp. 161-179. ISBN 9780875904771 (2009) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: doi:10.1029/2008GM000775


© 2009 by the American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.Interest in the biogeochemical cycle of iron has grown rapidly over the last two decades, due to the potential role of this element in modulating global climate in the geological past and ocean productivity in the present day. This trace metal has a disproportionately large effect (1 × 105 C:Fe) on photosynthetic carbon fixation by phytoplankton. In around one third of the open ocean, so-called high-nitrate low-chlorophyll (HNLC) regions, the resident phytoplankton have low growth rates despite an abundance of plant nutrients. This is due to the low supply of iron. Iron is present in the ocean in three phases, dissolved, colloidal, and particulate (biogenic and lithogenic). However, iron chemistry is complex with interactions between chemistry and biology such as the production of ironbinding siderophores by oceanic bacteria. This results in the interplay of inorganic chemistry, photochemistry, and organic complexation. Sources of new iron include dust deposition, upwelling of iron-rich deep waters, and the resuspension and lateral transport of sediments. Sinks for iron are mainly biological as evidenced by the vertical nutrient-like profile for dissolved iron in the ocean. Iron is rapidly recycled by the upper ocean biota within a so-called "ferrous wheel." The fe ratio [(new iron)/(new + regenerated iron)] provides an index of the relative supply of iron to the biota by new versus recycled iron. Over the last 15 years, interest in the potential role of iron in shaping climate in the geological past resulted in some of the most ambitious experiments in oceanography: large-scale (i.e., 50-1000 km2) iron enrichment of HNLC waters. They have provided valuable insights into how iron supply influences the biogeochemical cycles of elements such as carbon, sulfur, silicon, nitrogen, and phosphate.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:biogeochemical cycle
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Boyd, PW (Professor Philip Boyd)
ID Code:91699
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-05-27
Last Modified:2014-05-27

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