Workshop June 27-29, 2011

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Workshop participants.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs

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The ocean plays a critical role in sequestering CO2 by exporting fixed carbon to the deep ocean through the biological pump. Approximately 20–50% of the total global carbon export to the deep ocean occurs in the Southern Ocean. There is a pressing need to understand the systematics of carbon export in the Southern Ocean in the context of global warming because of the sensitivity of this region to climate change, already manifested as significant temperature increases.

Numerous studies have indicated that Fe supply is a primary control on phytoplankton biomass and productivity in the Southern Ocean. In the last 15 years, numerous in situ artificial Fe fertilization experiments have been conducted in Southern Ocean HNLC regions. It was hypothesized that addition of Fe to surface waters of HNLC regions could increase particular organic carbon (POC) export to the deep ocean. It has been difficult to determine the effect of Fe fertilization on carbon export in these experiments because of the physical dispersion of Fe patches, the time required for export to occur and the logistical constraints of ship operations in these regions. Many unexpected results were seen in these artificial Fe fertilization experiments which affect the natural ecosystem functioning. Thus, rate estimates derived from these experiments have limited applicability to models that seek to understand the interactions between natural Fe fertilization and carbon sequestration processes.

In the Southern Ocean, Fe–limited Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) surface waters are enriched by additions of natural Fe from shelf waters in several regions, resulting in significant downstream enhancement of primary productivity. Recent studies have used these natural Fe supplies and gradients in order to understand the role of Fe as a driver of ocean biogeochemistry.

To facilitate future collaboration and sharing of ides, we will convene a 3 day international workshop on natural Fe fertilization at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution We anticipate approximately 30-40 participants from a range of scientific expertise  including physics, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem community structure. The participation of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars will be especially encouraged. The goals of the workshop include:

• Finding similarities and differences in physical and biogeochemical processes, rate estimates and models between different geographic regions and seasons

• Seeking generality and applicability of these rates and models in the Southern Ocean

• Estimating the current state and potential change of natural Fe fertilization in the Southern Ocean in a warming climate, and the impacts on carbon export and foodweb dynamics

• Identifying errors, unknowns and missing links in our understandings and estimates

• Sharing methods and models for enhancing the capability of each scientific team to conduct natural Fe experiments with consistent methods

The workshop will be open to all scientists who are interested in topics associated with natural Fe fertilization and its impacts on ocean ecosystems. The workshop will be held in Woods Hole during June 2011.

Conference organizers:

Meng Zhou, University of Massachusetts-Boston, USA
Matt Charette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA
Richard Sanders, National Oceanography Centre, UK


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Last updated January 4, 2011
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