Analysis of horizontal and vertical processes contributing to natural iron supply in the mixed layer in southern Drake Passage

Citation:
Frants, M, Gille ST, Hatta M, Hiscock WT, Kahru M, Measures CI, Mitchell BG, Zhou M.  2013.  Analysis of horizontal and vertical processes contributing to natural iron supply in the mixed layer in southern Drake Passage. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 90:68-76.

Date Published:

6/2013

Keywords:

antarctic circumpolar current, bloom, chlorophyll-a, diapycnal mixing, dissolved iron, Drake Passage, experiment, fertilization, iron, Kerguelen plateau, mixing, Ona Basin, open-ocean, organic-carbon, phytoplankton, scotia sea, Southern Ocean, wind stress measurements

Abstract:

Horizontal advection, vertical mixing, and mixed-layer entrainment all affect iron concentrations and biological productivity in the Ona Basin, near the Shackleton Transverse Ridge (STR) in southern Drake Passage. Trace metal sampling in the region indicates that dissolved iron concentrations are significantly higher on the continental shelf near the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands than they are in the deep waters away from the shelf. Comparisons between satellite-derived sea surface height (SSH) and Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) levels in the Ona Basin show > 95% correlation between Chl-a concentrations and horizontal advection of these iron-rich shelf waters during the months of November and December for the years 1997-2010. However, no significant correlations are found for January-April, while high Chl-a concentrations in the Ona Basin persist through March. Enhanced vertical (diapycnal) mixing and mixed-layer entrainment are considered as alternative mechanisms for delivering iron into the Ona Basin mixed layer and sustaining the high Chl-a concentrations. Estimates of iron flux based on in situ measurements of dissolved iron concentrations suggest that diapycnal mixing alone can supply iron to the base of the mixed layer at a rate of 64 +/- 2 nmol m(-2) day(-1) during the summer. In addition, the summer mixed layer in the Ona Basin deepens from January to April, allowing for iron-rich water to be steadily entrained from below. Estimates based on monthly mixed-layer climatologies produce average daily entrainment rates ranging from 5 to 25 nmol m(-2) day(-1). While neither diapycnal mixing nor entrainment alone is always sufficient to meet the estimated iron demand for the Ona Basin bloom, numerical simulation suggests that the combined effect of the two processes can consistently supply sufficient iron to sustain the bloom. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Notes:

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DOI:

10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.06.001