Satellites’ and models’ points of view on the South Georgia island mass effect. Results from a multidisciplinary study in the Southern Ocean

Donnerstag, 19. Dezember 2013 - 14:00 Uhr
GEO-Gebäude, Raum 1550 (Hörsaal)
Ines Borrione

In high-nutrient low-chlorophyll waters of the south-western Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, an intense phytoplankton bloom is observed annually north of South Georgia (37°W, 55°S). South Georgia blooms have a vital role in the ecosystem surrounding the island, and have been linked to one of the strongest seasonal atmospheric-carbon uptake in the open Southern Ocean. Which environmental conditions drive such remarkable productivity are still under debate, and were investigated in the current study using a multidisciplinary approach. Satellite-derived observations of surface chlorophyll a concentrations and circulation patterns were used to study the annual and inter-annual variability of phytoplankton blooms in the region. Our analysis reveals a time series of very regular blooms, controlled in space by circulation and regulated in time by surface silicate concentrations, temperature and light. The role of the fundamental, yet limiting, micronutrient iron was investigated with the coupled hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model ROMS_AGRIF-PISCES. Model results, validated against available observations, suggest a continuous supply of dissolved iron from the island's shallow shelves that is redistributed in the region by local circulation. Conversely, aeolian sources of iron have a negligible role in the main bloom area, but appear to be more important outside the influence of the South Georgia island mass effect.