12 Dec 2022
12 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Importance of multiple sources of iron for the upper ocean biogeochemistry over the northern Indian Ocean

Priyanka Banerjee Priyanka Banerjee
  • Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

Abstract. Although the northern Indian Ocean (IO) is globally one of the most productive regions and receives dissolved iron (DFe) from multiple sources, there is no comprehensive understanding of how these different sources of DFe can impact upper ocean biogeochemical dynamics. Using an Earth system model with an ocean biogeochemistry component this study shows that atmospheric deposition is the most important source of DFe to the upper 100 m of the northern IO, contributing more than 50 % of the annual DFe concentration. Sedimentary sources are locally important in the vicinity of the continental shelves and over the southern tropical IO, away from high atmospheric depositions. While atmospheric deposition contributes to more than 10 % (35 %) to 0–100 m (surface level) chlorophyll concentrations over large parts of the northern IO, sedimentary sources have similar contribution to chlorophyll concentrations over the southern tropical IO. Such increases in chlorophyll are primarily driven by an increase in diatom population over most of the northern IO. The regions that are susceptible to chlorophyll enhancement following external DFe additions are where low levels of background DFe and high background NO3:DFe values are observed. Analysis of DFe budget over selected biophysical regimes over the northern IO points to vertical mixing as most important for DFe supply, while the importance of advection (horizontal and vertical) varies seasonally. Apart from removal of surface DFe by phytoplankton uptake, subsurface balance between DFe scavenging and regeneration is crucial in replenishing DFe pool to be made available to surface layer by physical processes.

Priyanka Banerjee

Status: open (until 22 Feb 2023)

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Priyanka Banerjee

Priyanka Banerjee


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Short summary
This study shows that atmospheric deposition is the most important source of iron to the upper northern Indian Ocean for phytoplankton growth. This is followed by iron from continental shelf sediment. Phytoplankton increase following iron addition is possible only with high background levels of nitrate. Vertical mixing is the most important physical process supplying iron to the upper ocean in this region throughout the year. The importance of ocean currents in supplying iron varies seasonally.