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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-371
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-371
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  19 Oct 2020

19 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Latitudinal patterns in the concentrations of biologically utilised elements in the surface ocean

Daisy Pickup and Toby Tyrrell Daisy Pickup and Toby Tyrrell
  • Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK

Abstract. Understanding of controls on the spatial distributions of chemical elements in the surface ocean has improved over time. Macronutrients were understood first, followed by dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity. Utilising data collected in the Atlantic by the ongoing GEOTRACES programme, controls can now start to be investigated for other elements. Here we investigate the generality of the rule that, in surface waters, higher concentrations occur at higher latitudes. Our analyses of Atlantic GEOTRACES data show that, after salinity normalisation, all biologically utilised elements except iron follow this rule (ρ ≥ 0.45). Most elements (nitrate, phosphate, cadmium, barium, and nickel) are even more strongly correlated (ρ > 0.6) with latitude. We attribute this pattern to upwelling and/or entrainment of deep water at high latitudes. Although only Atlantic data was analysed here, we predict that this rule will be found to hold true for all oceans in which surface and deep waters exchange more readily at high latitudes. The rule does not hold in the central western Arctic Ocean, where a year-round strong halocline prevents exchange of surface and deep waters.

Daisy Pickup and Toby Tyrrell

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Daisy Pickup and Toby Tyrrell

Daisy Pickup and Toby Tyrrell

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Short summary
Concentrations of chemical elements dissolved in seawater differ from place to place in the surface ocean. Understanding how they change, and why, is important, for instance to understand ocean carbon storage or to understand nutrient supply for life in the ocean. We used a new global dataset to study spatial changes of numerous elements, many not studied before. We find a common pattern: an increase from low to high latitudes, because deep water rises to the surface at high latitudes.
Concentrations of chemical elements dissolved in seawater differ from place to place in the...
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