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Iron partitioning in pack and fast ice in East Antarctica: potential for temporal decoupling between the release of dissolved and particulate iron during spring melt

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 10:37 authored by Pier van der MerwePier van der Merwe, Delphine LannuzelDelphine Lannuzel, Mancuso Nichols, CA, Klaus MeinersKlaus Meiners, Andrew BowieAndrew Bowie
Iron is the fundamental nutrient limiting phytoplankton growth in vast regions of the Southern Ocean. Sea ice, which covers > 80 % of the Southern Ocean during maximum extent, can concentrate iron two orders of magnitude higher than in the underlying sea water. The partitioning of iron between the particulate and dissolved fractions depends on the location and type of sea ice formation and can impact on the bioavailability of this important trace element. This study is the first to document iron partitioning and concentration in both pack and fast ice during a single research study. Sampling was conducted during the Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem eXperiment (SIPEX), an approved Australian IPY-GEOTRACES project, within the 110-130 E sector of Antarctica. We observed markedly higher concentrations of particulate iron at our fast ice site (0.96 - 214 nM) relative to several pack ice sites (0.87 - 77.7 nM). These results are compared with the available literature on Antarctic pack and fast ice. A high particulate-to-dissolved iron ratio was observed at the fast ice site (285:1) relative to the highest observed in pack ice (23:1). This suggests a decoupling between the sources and/or sinks of the dissolved and particulate fractions. Preferential release of dissolved iron (and not particulate iron) into brines at all sites sampled with the sack hole method (and therefore indicative of brine drainage), indicates the diffuse nature of the dissolved fraction. Furthermore, this indicates that there may be a temporal decoupling between the release of the dissolved and particulate fractions into the water column as sea ice becomes more permeable during the seasonal melt. Implications for phytoplankton production in Antarctic sea ice are discussed.


Publication title

EOS Transactions, Ocean Sciences Meeting Supplement




Abstract CO15C-07


Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


American Geophysical Union

Place of publication

Washington DC

Event title

AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting 2010

Event Venue

Portland, Oregon

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes

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