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Southern Ocean deep-water carbon export enhanced by natural iron fertilisation

Pollard, Raymond T., Salter, Ian, Sanders, Richard J., Lucas, Mike I., Moore, C. Mark, Mills, Rachel A., Statham, Peter J., Allen, John T., Baker, Alex R., Bakker, Dorothee C. E., Charette, Matthew A., Fielding, Sophie, Fones, Gary R., French, Megan, Hickman, Anna E., Holland, Ross J., Hughes, J. Alan, Jickells, Timothy D., Lampitt, Richard S., Morris, Paul J., Nédélec, Florence H., Nielsdóttir, Maria, Planquette, Hélène, Popova, Ekaterina E., Poulton, Alex J., Read, Jane F., Seeyave, Sophie, Smith, Tania, Stinchcombe, Mark, Taylor, Sarah, Thomalla, Sandy, Venables, Hugh J., Williamson, Robert and Zubkov, Mike V. (2009) Southern Ocean deep-water carbon export enhanced by natural iron fertilisation Nature, 457, (7229), pp. 577-580. (doi:10.1038/nature07716).

Record type: Article


The addition of iron to high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll regions induces phytoplankton blooms that take up carbon1, 2, 3. Carbon export from the surface layer and, in particular, the ability of the ocean and sediments to sequester carbon for many years remains, however, poorly quantified3. Here we report data from the CROZEX experiment4 in the Southern Ocean, which was conducted to test the hypothesis that the observed north–south gradient in phytoplankton concentrations in the vicinity of the Crozet Islands is induced by natural iron fertilization that results in enhanced organic carbon flux to the deep ocean. We report annual particulate carbon fluxes out of the surface layer, at three kilometres below the ocean surface and to the ocean floor. We find that carbon fluxes from a highly productive, naturally iron-fertilized region of the sub-Antarctic Southern Ocean are two to three times larger than the carbon fluxes from an adjacent high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll area not fertilized by iron. Our findings support the hypothesis that increased iron supply to the glacial sub-Antarctic may have directly enhanced carbon export to the deep ocean5. The CROZEX sequestration efficiency6 (the amount of carbon sequestered below the depth of winter mixing for a given iron supply) of 8,600 mol mol-1 was 18 times greater than that of a phytoplankton bloom induced artificially by adding iron7, but 77 times smaller than that of another bloom8 initiated, like CROZEX, by a natural supply of iron. Large losses of purposefully added iron can explain the lower efficiency of the induced bloom6. The discrepancy between the blooms naturally supplied with iron may result in part from an underestimate of horizontal iron supply.

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Published date: 29 January 2009
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre,Southampton


Local EPrints ID: 64184
ISSN: 0028-0836
PURE UUID: 76f3ec49-cc86-429e-8215-f48a93cc4e98
ORCID for Rachel A. Mills: ORCID iD
ORCID for Anna E. Hickman: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 04 Dec 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:14

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Author: Raymond T. Pollard
Author: Ian Salter
Author: Richard J. Sanders
Author: Mike I. Lucas
Author: C. Mark Moore
Author: Rachel A. Mills ORCID iD
Author: John T. Allen
Author: Alex R. Baker
Author: Dorothee C. E. Bakker
Author: Matthew A. Charette
Author: Sophie Fielding
Author: Gary R. Fones
Author: Megan French
Author: Anna E. Hickman ORCID iD
Author: Ross J. Holland
Author: J. Alan Hughes
Author: Timothy D. Jickells
Author: Richard S. Lampitt
Author: Paul J. Morris
Author: Florence H. Nédélec
Author: Maria Nielsdóttir
Author: Hélène Planquette
Author: Ekaterina E. Popova
Author: Alex J. Poulton
Author: Jane F. Read
Author: Sophie Seeyave
Author: Tania Smith
Author: Mark Stinchcombe
Author: Sarah Taylor
Author: Sandy Thomalla
Author: Hugh J. Venables
Author: Robert Williamson
Author: Mike V. Zubkov

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