Mechanisms controlling dissolved iron distribution in the North Pacific: A model study
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2010JG001541
Mechanisms controlling the dissolved iron distribution in the North Pacific are investigated using the Biogeochemical Elemental Cycling (BEC) model with a resolution of approximately 1° in latitude and longitude and 60 vertical levels. The model is able to reproduce the general distribution of iron as revealed in available field data: surface concentrations are generally below 0.2 nM; concentrations increase with depth; and values in the lower pycnocline are especially high in the northwestern Pacific and off the coast of California. Sensitivity experiments changing scavenging regimes and external iron sources indicate that lateral transport of sedimentary iron from continental margins into the open ocean causes the high concentrations in these regions. This offshore penetration only appears under a scavenging regime where iron has a relatively long residence time at high concentrations, namely, the order of years. Sedimentary iron is intensively supplied around continental margins, resulting in locally high concentrations; the residence time with respect to scavenging determines the horizontal scale of elevated iron concentrations. Budget analysis for iron reveals the processes by which sedimentary iron is transported to the open ocean. Horizontal mixing transports sedimentary iron from the boundary into alongshore currents, which then carry high iron concentrations into the open ocean in regions where the alongshore currents separate from the coast, most prominently in the northwestern Pacific and off of California.