Chemically and Geographically Distinct Solid-Phase Iron Pools in the Southern Ocean

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Science  30 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6111, pp. 1199-1201
DOI: 10.1126/science.1227504

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Iron is a limiting nutrient in many parts of the oceans, including the unproductive regions of the Southern Ocean. Although the dominant fraction of the marine iron pool occurs in the form of solid-phase particles, its chemical speciation and mineralogy are challenging to characterize on a regional scale. We describe a diverse array of iron particles, ranging from 20 to 700 nanometers in diameter, in the waters of the Southern Ocean euphotic zone. Distinct variations in the oxidation state and composition of these iron particles exist between the coasts of South Africa and Antarctica, with different iron pools occurring in different frontal zones. These speciation variations can result in solubility differences that may affect the production of bioavailable dissolved iron.

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