Primary productivity, differential size fraction and pigment composition responses in two Southern Ocean in situ iron enrichments

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Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers
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Two in situ iron-enrichment experiments were conducted in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean during summer 2002 (SOFeX). The "north patch," established within the Subantarctic Zone (similar to 56 degrees S), was characterized by high nitrate (similar to 21 mmol m(-3)) but low silicic acid (2mmol m(-3)) concentrations. North patch iron enrichment increased chlorophyll (Chl) by 12-fold to 2.1 mg m(-3) and primary productivity (PPEu) by 8-fold to 188mmol C m(-2) d(-1). Surprisingly, despite low silicic acid concentrations, diagnostic pigment and size-fraction composition changes indicated an assemblage shift from prymnesiophytes toward diatoms. The "south patch," poleward of the Southern Boundary of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (SBACC) (similar to 66 degrees S), had high concentrations of nitrate (similar to 27 mmol m(-3)) and silicic acid (64 mmol m(-3)). South patch iron enrichment increased Chl by 9-fold to 3.8mgm(-3) and PPEU 5-fold to 161 mmol C m(-2) d(-1) but, notably, did not alter the phytoplankton assemblage from the initial composition of -50% diatoms. South patch iron addition also reduced total particulate organic carbon:Chl from similar to 300 to 100; enhanced the presence of novel non-photosynthetic, but fluorescent, compounds; and counteracted a decrease in photosynthetic performance as photoperiod decreased. These experiments show unambiguously that in the contemporary, high nitrate Southern Ocean increasing iron supply increases primary productivity, confirming the initial premise of the Martin Iron Hypothesis. However, despite a 5-fold increase in PPEU under iron-replete conditions in late summer, the effect of iron on annual productivity in the Southern Ocean poleward of the SBACC is limited by seasonal ice coverage and the dark of polar winter. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2007.02.008