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Different mechanisms of silicic acid leakage and their biogeochemical consequences

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 23:35 authored by Matsumoto, K, Zanna ChaseZanna Chase, Kohfeld, K
In the modern ocean, silicic acid is effectively trapped in the Southern Ocean. According to the silicic acid leakage hypothesis, a loosening of this trapping may have contributed to low atmospheric CO2 during glacial times. Using a model with dynamical feedbacks in ocean physics and biology, we explore three distinct mechanisms to loosen the trapping and trigger silicic acid leakage from the Southern Ocean: sea ice expansion, weaker winds, and iron addition. The basic idea of the iron addition mechanism was previously explored using a simple box model. Here we confirm the main results of the earlier work and demonstrate further that sea ice expansion and weaker southern westerlies can also trigger silicic acid leakage. The three mechanisms are not mutually exclusive, and their biogeochemical consequences are dissimilar in terms of the spatial patterns of Si:N uptake and the relative changes in opal and particulate organic carbon fluxes both in and outside the Southern Ocean. While it is not entirely clear how sea ice, winds, and iron deposition were different during the last glacial period compared to today, we examine the synergistic effects of these three triggers in one simulation. In this simulation, the combination of sea ice and iron reproduces the north-south dipole of productivity recorded in export production proxies, but effects of the iron perturbation seem to dominate the overall biogeochemical response.


Australian Research Council


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Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Geophysical Union

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Copyright 2014 American Geophysical Union

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