Articles | Volume 14, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 14, 1123–1152, 2017

Special issue: Progress in quantifying ocean biogeochemistry – in honour...

Biogeosciences, 14, 1123–1152, 2017

Research article 09 Mar 2017

Research article | 09 Mar 2017

Manganese in the west Atlantic Ocean in the context of the first global ocean circulation model of manganese

Marco van Hulten1,6, Rob Middag2,3,4, Jean-Claude Dutay1, Hein de Baar4,5, Matthieu Roy-Barman1, Marion Gehlen1, Alessandro Tagliabue7, and Andreas Sterl6 Marco van Hulten et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (LSCE), IPSL, CEA–Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Department of Chemistry, NIWA/University of Otago Research Centre for Oceanography, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  • 3Department of Ocean Sciences & Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
  • 4NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Ocean Systems, and Utrecht University, P.O. Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, the Netherlands
  • 5University of Groningen (RUG), Postbus 72, 9700 AB Groningen, the Netherlands
  • 6Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Utrechtseweg 297, 3731 GA De Bilt, the Netherlands
  • 7University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK

Abstract. Dissolved manganese (Mn) is a biologically essential element. Moreover, its oxidised form is involved in removing itself and several other trace elements from ocean waters. Here we report the longest thus far (17 500 km length) full-depth ocean section of dissolved Mn in the west Atlantic Ocean, comprising 1320 data values of high accuracy. This is the GA02 transect that is part of the GEOTRACES programme, which aims to understand trace element distributions. The goal of this study is to combine these new observations with new, state-of-the-art, modelling to give a first assessment of the main sources and redistribution of Mn throughout the ocean. To this end, we simulate the distribution of dissolved Mn using a global-scale circulation model. This first model includes simple parameterisations to account for the sources, processes and sinks of Mn in the ocean. Oxidation and (photo)reduction, aggregation and settling, as well as biological uptake and remineralisation by plankton are included in the model. Our model provides, together with the observations, the following insights:

– The high surface concentrations of manganese are caused by the combination of photoreduction and sources contributing to the upper ocean. The most important sources are sediments, dust, and, more locally, rivers.

– Observations and model simulations suggest that surface Mn in the Atlantic Ocean moves downwards into the southward-flowing North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), but because of strong removal rates there is no elevated concentration of Mn visible any more in the NADW south of 40° N.

– The model predicts lower dissolved Mn in surface waters of the Pacific Ocean than the observed concentrations. The intense oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) in subsurface waters is deemed to be a major source of dissolved Mn also mixing upwards into surface waters, but the OMZ is not well represented by the model. Improved high-resolution simulation of the OMZ may solve this problem.

– There is a mainly homogeneous background concentration of dissolved Mn of about 0.10–0.15 nM throughout most of the deep ocean. The model reproduces this by means of a threshold on particulate manganese oxides of 25 pM, suggesting that a minimal concentration of particulate Mn is needed before aggregation and removal become efficient.

– The observed distinct hydrothermal signals are produced by assuming both a strong source and a strong removal of Mn near hydrothermal vents.

Short summary
We ran a global ocean model to understand manganese (Mn), a biologically essential element. Our model shows that (i) in the deep ocean, dissolved [Mn] is mostly homogeneous ~0.10—0.15 nM. The model reproduces this with a threshold on MnO2 of 25 pM, suggesting a minimal particle concentration is needed before aggregation and removal become efficient. (ii) The observed distinct hydrothermal signals are produced by assuming both a strong source and a strong removal of Mn near hydrothermal vents.
Final-revised paper