Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans






19 pp.


Previous studies showed that satellite‐derived estimates of chlorophyll a in coastal polynyas over the Antarctic continental shelf are correlated with the basal melt rate of adjacent ice shelves. A 5‐km resolution ocean/sea ice/ice shelf model of the Southern Ocean is used to examine mechanisms that supply the limiting micronutrient iron to Antarctic continental shelf surface waters. Four sources of dissolved iron are simulated with independent tracers, assumptions about the source iron concentration for each tracer, and an idealized summer biological uptake. Iron from ice shelf melt provides about 6% of the total dissolved iron in surface waters. The contribution from deep sources of iron on the shelf (sediments and Circumpolar Deep Water) is much larger at 71%. The relative contribution of dissolved iron supply from basal melt driven overturning circulation within ice shelf cavities is heterogeneous around Antarctica, but at some locations, such as the Amundsen Sea, it is the primary mechanism for transporting deep dissolved iron to the surface. Correlations between satellite chlorophyll a in coastal polynyas around Antarctica and simulated dissolved iron confirm the previous suggestion that productivity of the polynyas is linked to the basal melt of adjacent ice shelves. This correlation is the result of upward advection or mixing of iron‐rich deep waters due to circulation changes driven by ice shelf melt, rather than a direct influence of iron released from melting ice shelves. This dependence highlights the potential vulnerability of coastal Antarctic ecosystems to changes in ice shelf basal melt rates.


An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright (2020) American Geophysical Union.

Original Publication Citation

Dinniman, M. S., St‐Laurent, P., Arrigo, K. R., Hofmann, E. E., & van Dijken, G. L. (2020). Analysis of iron sources in antarctic continental shelf waters. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125(5), 19 pp., Article e2019JC015736.


0000-0001-7519-9278 (Dinniman), 0000-0002-1700-9509 (St-Laurent), 0000-0001-6710-4371 (Hofmann)