High productivity in an ice melting hot spot at the eastern boundary of the Weddell Gyre

W Geibert, P Assmy, DCE Bakker, C Hanfland, M Hoppema, L Pichevin, M Schroder, JN Schwarz, I Stimac, U Usbeck, A Webb

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Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) plays a key role in modulating atmospheric CO 2 via physical and biological processes. However, over much of the SO, biological activity is iron-limited. New in situ data from the Antarctic zone south of Africa in a region centered at ~20°E-25°E reveal a previously overlooked region of high primary production, comparable in size to the northwest African upwelling region. Here, sea ice together with enclosed icebergs is channeled by prevailing winds to the eastern boundary of the Weddell Gyre, where a sharp transition to warmer waters causes melting. This cumulative melting provides a steady source of iron, fuelling an intense phytoplankton bloom that is not fully captured by monthly satellite production estimates. These findings imply that future changes in sea-ice cover and dynamics could have a significant effect on carbon sequestration in the SO.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberGB3007
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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