Climatically sensitive transfer of iron to maritime Antarctic ecosystems by surface runoff

Andy Hodson, Aga Nowak, Marie Sabacka, Anne Jungblut, Francisco Navarro, David Pearce, María Ávila-Jiménez, Peter Convey, Gonçalo Vieira

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Abstract

Iron supplied by glacial weathering results in pronounced hotspots of biological production in an otherwise iron-limited Southern Ocean Ecosystem. However, glacial iron inputs are thought to be dominated by icebergs. Here we show that surface runoff from three island groups of the maritime Antarctic exports more filterable (<0.45 μm) iron (6–81 kg km−2 a−1) than icebergs (0.0–1.2 kg km−2 a−1). Glacier-fed streams also export more acid-soluble iron (27.0–18,500 kg km−2 a−1) associated with suspended sediment than icebergs (0–241 kg km−2 a−1). Significant fluxes of filterable and sediment-derived iron (1–10 Gg a−1 and 100–1,000 Gg a−1, respectively) are therefore likely to be delivered by runoff from the Antarctic continent. Although estuarine removal processes will greatly reduce their availability to coastal ecosystems, our results clearly indicate that riverine iron fluxes need to be accounted for as the volume of Antarctic melt increases in response to 21st century climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14499
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017

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