Towards accounting for dissolved iron speciation in global ocean models

The trace metal iron (Fe) is now routinely included in state-of-the-art ocean general circulation and biogeochemistry models (OGCBMs) because of its key role as a limiting nutrient in regions of the world ocean important for carbon cycling and air-sea CO2 exchange. However, the complexities of the seawater Fe cycle, which impact its speciation and bioavailability, are highly simplified in such OGCBMs to avoid high computational costs. In a similar fashion to inorganic carbon speciation, we outline a means by which the complex speciation of Fe can be included in global OGCBMs in a reasonably cost-effective manner. We use our Fe speciation to suggest the global distribution of different Fe species is tightly controlled by environmental variability (temperature, light, oxygen and pH) and the assumptions regarding Fe binding ligands. Impacts on bioavailable Fe are highly sensitive to assumptions regarding which Fe species are bioavailable. When forced by representations of future ocean circulation and climate we find large changes to the speciation of Fe governed by pH mediated changes to redox kinetics. We speculate that these changes may exert selective pressure on phytoplankton Fe uptake strategies in the future ocean. We hope our modeling approach can also be used as a ”test bed” for exploring our understanding of Fe speciation at the global scale.

Tagliabue A. & Völker C., 2011. Towards accounting for dissolved iron speciation in global ocean models. Biogeosciences Discussions 8: 2775-2810. Article.

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