Seminars and Events
Coupling and decoupling of zinc and silicon in the global ocean
Zinc is a bioessential micronutrient, second only to iron in its importance to marine phytoplankton and, thus, ocean carbon cycling. The oceanic distribution of Zn is remarkably similar to that of Si, a coupling that has been puzzled over by oceanographers for decades. While Si is dominantly cycled by diatoms, which use it to build their opal shell, Zn is associated with the organic parts of phytoplankton, cooccurring with P. We present a proposed a solution to this Zn-Si paradox: the elevated uptake of Si and Zn compared to P by diatoms growing in the Southern Ocean, followed by the transport of the resulting nutrient ‘fingerprint’ to the global ocean by the ocean circulation. Furthermore, we observe that distal from the Southern Ocean influence, in the subarctic Pacific, Zn and Si are decoupled, providing corroborating evidence that there is no mechanistic link in their vertical cycling.
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