Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Chemical atlas' provides unique understanding of ocean geochemistry

Date:
April 1, 2014
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
An international project has produced a ‘chemical atlas’ providing unprecedented insight into the distributions of key elements, isotopes and other substances in the world’s oceans. The atlas, which includes 3D maps and rotating images, provides a wealth of information including the distribution of micronutrients. They are important for the growth of marine phytoplankton and determine how much planet-warming carbon dioxide the ocean can soak up through biology, plus they can indicate areas of lead contamination from cars burning petrol laced with the toxic metal.

An international project, involving oceanographers from the University of Southampton, has produced a 'chemical atlas' providing unprecedented insight into the distributions of key elements, isotopes and other substances in the world's oceans.

The atlas, which includes 3D maps and rotating images, provides a wealth of information including the distribution of micronutrients, such as iron, zinc and cadmium. They are important for the growth of marine phytoplankton (microscopic floating plants) and determine how much planet-warming carbon dioxide the ocean can soak up through biology, plus they can indicate areas of lead contamination from cars burning petrol laced with the toxic metal.

The $300m GEOTRACES project has involved researchers from 30 labs in 10 countries gathering data on almost 30 cruises since 2010. They have collected nearly 30,000 water samples at various depths from 787 locations from around the world and developed strict sampling and analytical methods.

The researchers measured more than 200 substances, both humanmade and natural, and have produced incredibly detailed digital maps of important elements such as iron, aluminium, lead and cadmium. Iron can fuel plankton blooms and influence how the ocean responds to climate change, while the lead images show the impact of past pollution on the ocean and continuing contamination in some parts of the world and aluminium is used as a tracer of desert dust inputs to the ocean.

Ocean and Earth scientists from the University of Southampton have been at the forefront of the UK GEOTRACES activities. Professor Eric Achterberg led the GEOTRACES cruise in 2011 in the tropical Atlantic and his group undertook the dissolved trace element work on the cruise in the South Atlantic.

Professor Achterberg, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, says: "There is an urgent need to understand micronutrient, trace element and isotope cycles to advance our understanding of ocean biogeochemistry in the present day ocean and in the past.

"A fundamental principle of GEOTRACES is that measurements of a range of chemical species along sections crossing chemical gradients provide complementary information that cannot be derived from isolated studies of small subsets of such species. The wide geographical and analytical efforts required to measure many chemical species and isotopes in all oceans is a major undertaking, beyond the scope of a single nation and requires international co-operation."

Dr Christian Schlosser, a chemical oceanographer formerly at the University of Southampton, has recently published his latest work that analysed the distribution of iron in the surface ocean of the Atlantic and its biogeochemical consequences, as part of the GEOTRACES project, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper 'Seasonal ITCZ migration dynamically controls the location of the (sub) tropical Atlantic biogeochemical divide' highlights how dust blowing off Africa's deserts amplify surface levels of iron in the Atlantic that in turn control the spatial activity of nitrogen gas fixing phytoplankton and phosphate content in the Tropical Atlantic.

Dr Schlosser says: "This study is unique and makes a pivotal contribution to our understanding of the biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the world's oceans."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Schlosser, J. K. Klar, B. D. Wake, J. T. Snow, D. J. Honey, E. M. S. Woodward, M. C. Lohan, E. P. Achterberg, C. M. Moore. Seasonal ITCZ migration dynamically controls the location of the (sub)tropical Atlantic biogeochemical divide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; 111 (4): 1438 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1318670111

Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "'Chemical atlas' provides unique understanding of ocean geochemistry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401112020.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2014, April 1). 'Chemical atlas' provides unique understanding of ocean geochemistry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401112020.htm
University of Southampton. "'Chemical atlas' provides unique understanding of ocean geochemistry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401112020.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins