Recent Study Demonstrates the Importance of the Southern Ocean for the Cycling of Silicon in the Sea

Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014

Silicon dissolved in seawater is a vital nutrient for siliceous organisms, such as the diatoms that play an important role in naturally sequestering carbon within the ocean. A recent study, led by AOS Postdoctoral Research Fellow Greg de Souza, combines recent, novel observations of the stable isotope composition of silicon dissolved in seawater with a model simulation of the ocean's silicon cycle. The authors demonstrate that the observed silicon isotope distribution in the ocean reflects the importance of the Southern Ocean, the circumpolar ocean surrounding Antarctica, for the cycling of silicon in the sea. In line with previous work in the Sarmiento group (Sarmiento et al., 2004; 2007; Palter et al., 2010), the study provides observationally ground-truthed evidence for the Southern Ocean's dominant role in determining global ocean nutrient biogeochemistry. AOS Director Jorge Sarmiento and Rick Slater, an AOS senior earth system modeler, are coauthors of the study along with John Dunne (GFDL) who collaborates with the Sarmiento Group. Access the study here.