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  1. Abstract

    Although iron availability has been shown to limit ocean productivity and influence marine carbon cycling, the rates of processes driving iron's removal and retention in the upper ocean are poorly constrained. Using234Th‐ and sediment‐trap data, most of which were collected through international GEOTRACES efforts, we perform an unprecedented observation‐based assessment of iron export from and residence time in the upper ocean. The majority of these new residence time estimates for total iron in the surface ocean (0–250 m) fall between 10 and 100 days. The upper ocean residence time of dissolved iron, on the other hand, varies and cycles on sub‐annual to annual timescales. Collectively, these residence times are shorter than previously thought, and the rates and timescales presented here will contribute to ongoing efforts to integrate iron into global biogeochemical models predicting climate and carbon dioxide sequestration in the ocean in the 21st century and beyond.

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