The role of the Dotson Ice Shelf and Circumpolar Deep Water as driver and source of dissolved and particulate iron and manganese in the Amundsen Sea polynya, Southern Ocean

Mathijs van Manen, Shigeru Aoki, Corina P.D. Brussaard, Tim M. Conway, Charlotte Eich, Loes J.A. Gerringa, Jinyoung Jung, Tae Wan Kim, Sang Hoon Lee, Youngju Lee, Gert Jan Reichart, Hung An Tian, Flora Wille, Rob Middag*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Coastal areas around Antarctica such as the Amundsen Sea are important sources of trace metals and biological hotspots, but are also experiencing the effects of climate change, including the rapid thinning of ice sheets. In the central Amundsen Sea Polynya (ASP), both bio-essential dissolved Fe (DFe) and dissolved Mn (DMn) were found to be depleted at the surface, indicating substantial biological uptake and/or precipitation. Close to the Dotson Ice Shelf (DIS) there were elevated surface concentrations of DMn (>3 nM) but surprisingly not for DFe (<0.3 nM). While Fe-binding ligand data suggests that ligands were abundant near the DIS, these were most likely not strong enough to outcompete scavenging and thus increase DFe substantially in the outflow. In contrast to the dissolved phase, particulate Fe (PFe) and Mn (PMn) concentrations (both labile and refractory fractions) were elevated over the entire water column close to the DIS and partly in the central ASP. We hypothesize that DFe was released from the DIS and immediately established an equilibrium with the labile particulate Fe (L-PFe)pool, via (reversible) scavenging, as indicated by a positive correlation between L-PFe and DFe in the outflow. This scavenging results in relatively low DFe concentrations, but the pool of labile PFe likely buffers the DFe pool when DFe is decreasing, e.g. due to uptake by phytoplankton. The DFe distribution also shows that inflowing modified circumpolar deep water (mCDW) and benthic sediments are clear and important sources for both DFe and DMn in the ASP. Refractory Fe and Mn likely have a lithogenic source, whereas the labile fractions are mostly biogenic in surface waters, and authigenic in deep waters (>100 m depth). We compared different uptake ratios, underlining that uptake ratio estimates do not necessarily capture natural variability and it is likely better to use a range of values. In the future, climate change may increase the heat flux of mCDW and thereby the melting of the DIS. This will most likely cause an increased input of Fe and Mn into the ASP, which may fuel increased levels of primary productivity in the ASP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104161
JournalMarine Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 20-Oct-2022


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Iron limitation
  • Southern Ocean
  • Trace metal

Cite this