An international team of researchers analysed the available data taken from all previous studies of the Southern Ocean, together with satellite images taken of the area, to quantify the amount of iron supplied to the surface waters of the Southern Ocean.
They found that deep winter mixing, a seasonal process which carries colder and deeper, nutrient-rich water to the surface, plays the most important role in transporting iron to the surface. The iron is then able to stimulate phytoplankton growth which supports the ocean's carbon cycle and the aquatic food chain
They were also able to determine that following the winter iron surge, a recycling process is necessary to support biological activity during the spring and summer seasons.
Oceanographer, Dr Alessandro Tagliabue, from the University's School of Environmental Sciences, said: "We combined all available iron data, matched them with physical data from autonomous profiling floats and used the latest satellite estimates of biological iron demand to explore how iron is supplied to the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean.
"This is important because iron limits biological productivity and air to sea CO2 exchange in this region. We found unique aspects to the iron cycle and how it is supplied by physical processes, making it distinct to other nutrients.
"This means that the Southern Ocean's nutrient supply would be affected by changes to the climate system (such as winds and freshwater input) differently to other areas of the ocean.
"We need to understand these unique aspects so that they can be used to better inform global climate predictions."
Dr Jean-Baptiste Sallée, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the British Antarctic Survey, said: “We are really excited to make this discovery because until now we didn’t know the physical processes allowing iron to reach the ocean surface and maintain biological activity. The combination of strong winds and intense heat loss in winter strongly mixes the ocean surface and the mixing reaches deep iron reservoir.”
The Southern Ocean comprises the southernmost waters of the world oceans that encircle Antarctica. Researchers have long known the region is crucial in the uptake of atmospheric CO2 and that biological processes in the Southern Ocean influence the global ocean system via northward flowing currents.
The research involved the British Antarctic Survey, Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observatory, Sorbonne Universites, CNRS, University of Tasmania, University of Cape Town, University of Otago, University of Tasmania.
It is published in Nature Geoscience.
Sarah Stamper | EurekAlert!
As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation
29.03.2017 | University of Hawaii at Manoa
Researchers discover dust plays prominent role in nutrients of mountain forest ecoystems
29.03.2017 | University of Wyoming
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences