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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Radium in Changing Environments: A Novel Tracer of Iron Fluxes at Ocean Margins (RaCE:TraX)

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RaCE:TraX is a NERC-funded Research Fellowship project to quantify key rates of iron input and removal at ocean margins, targeting specific areas of uncertainty in the biogeochemical iron cycle. Focusing on three key processes (oxic margin sediments, glacial inputs, and hydrothermal vents), this project will apply novel radium isotope measurements to different marine margin inputs to increase our understanding of contemporary fluxes of iron to the ocean.

At present a key uncertainty in our understanding of the iron (Fe) cycle is the rate of supply from margin sources. The novel approach of combining short-lived radium (Ra) isotopes with Fe measurements to quantify benthic Fe flux overcomes many of the limitations of existing methods. The unifying aim of RaCE:TraX is to use Ra isotopes to provide chronometric information to determine rates of input and removal of Fe at three important ocean margins: oxic shelf-slope sediments, glaciers, and hydrothermal vents.

In targeted locations (the western Antarctic Peninsula, hydrothermal vent fields, Greenland fjords), RaCE:TraX will determine activities of four Ra isotopes, which in combination allow an assessment of short-term input and removal processes and long-term mixing and advection required to evaluate the longevity of Fe supply in Fe-limited regions. These Ra measurements will provide the time information necessary to constrain the iron fluxes from oxic sediments, glacial processes and hydrothermal vents to the global ocean. Ultimately, these Ra-derived Fe input and removal rates will be incorporated into an Fe biogeochemistry model, to reduce model uncertainty and better understand how changes in Fe supply affect contemporary and future ocean biological productivity. 

Key Contacts

Amber Annett

Related research groups

Marine Biogeochemistry
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