Dissolved iron (dFe) plays an important role in regulating marine productivity. In high nutrient, low chlorophyll regions (>33% of the global ocean), iron is the primary growth limiting nutrient, and elsewhere iron can regulate nitrogen fixation by diazotrophs. The link between iron availability and carbon export is strongly dependent on the phytoplankton iron quotas or cellular Fe:C ratios. This ratio varies by more than an order of magnitude in the open ocean and is positively correlated with ambient dFe concentrations in field observations. Representing Fe:C ratios within models is necessary to investigate how ocean carbon cycling will interact with perturbations to iron cycling in a changing climate. The Community Earth System Model ocean component was modified to simulate dynamic, group‐specific, phytoplankton Fe:C that varies as a function of ambient iron concentration. The simulated Fe:C ratios improve the representation of the spatial trends in the observed Fe:C ratios. The acclimation of phytoplankton Fe:C ratios dampens the biogeochemical response to varying atmospheric deposition of soluble iron, compared to a fixed Fe:C ratio. However, varying atmospheric soluble iron supply has first order impacts on global carbon and nitrogen fluxes and on nutrient limitation spatial patterns. Our results suggest that pyrogenic Fe is a significant dFe source that rivals mineral dust inputs in some regions. Changes in dust flux and iron combustion sources (anthropogenic and wildfires) will modify atmospheric Fe inputs in the future. Accounting for dynamic phytoplankton iron quotas is critical for understanding ocean biogeochemistry and projecting its response to variations in atmospheric deposition.
Phytoplankton growth in the Indian Ocean is generally limited by macronutrients (nitrogen: N and phosphorus: P) in the north and by micronutrient (iron: Fe) in the south. Increasing atmospheric deposition of N and dissolved Fe (dFe) into the ocean due to human activities can thus lead to significant responses from both the northern and southern Indian Ocean ecosystems. Previous modeling studies investigated the impacts of anthropogenic nutrient deposition on the ocean, but their results are uncertain due to incomplete representations of the Fe cycling. This study uses a state‐of‐the‐art ocean ecosystem and Fe cycling model to evaluate the transient responses of ocean productivity and carbon uptake in the Indian Ocean, focusing on the centennial time scale. The model includes three major dFe sources and represents an internal Fe cycling modulated by scavenging, desorption, and complexation with multiple, spatially varying ligand classes. Sensitivity simulations show that after a century of anthropogenic deposition, ecosystem responses in the Indian Ocean are not uniform due to a competition between the phytoplankton community. In particular, the competition between diatom, coccolithophore, and picoplankton alters the balance between the organic and carbonate pumps in the Indian Ocean, increasing the carbon uptake along 50°S and the southeastern tropics while decreasing it in the Arabian Sea. Our results reveal the important role of ecosystem dynamics in controlling the sensitivity of carbon fluxes in the Indian Ocean under the impact of anthropogenic nutrient deposition over a centennial timescale.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
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- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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