Estimating iron and aluminum removal rates in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean using a box model approach

Artur P. Palacz, Fei Chai, Richard C. Dugdale, Christopher I. Measures

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Iron limitation plays an important role in maintaining the high-nitrate low-chlorophyll (HNLC) condition in the equatorial upwelling zone. The rate and depth of upwelling control Fe supply to the euphotic zone. This study constrains the transport fluxes and budget of two trace metals, Fe and Al, in the upper ocean. They are co-delivered to the eastern equatorial Pacific surface waters via the Equatorial Undercurrent and upwelling but show distinct biogeochemical cycling processes.We combine the results of the in situ measurements of dissolved Fe and Al (dFe and dAl) with the modeled velocity fields to calculate the physical fluxes. The model calculations are evaluated with the conservation of heat, volume transport, NO3 and Si(OH)4 budgets for the equatorial Pacific. The vertical flux due to upwelling provides averaged dFe and dAl supply rates of 1.45μmolm−2d−1 and 11.51μmolm−2d−1, respectively. The sum of the net physical fluxes in the eastern equatorial Pacific for dFe and dAl are 0.41μmolm−2d−1 and 2.77μmolm−2d−1, respectively. These estimates are equal to the net biological and chemical removal rates of dFe and dAl. The calculated dFe:C net removal ratio is in the range of 3-9μmol:mol, which agrees with most other estimates. This suggests that the majority of net dFe removal is due to biological uptake in the upper water column.The results of this box model approach illustrate the usefulness of combining the modeled outputs and in situ measurements, which provide additional constraints on Fe transport and cycling in the equatorial Pacific and possibly other HNLC regions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeep-Sea Research. Part 2: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)311-324
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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