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Postgraduate research project

Southern Ocean iron supply: does size fractionation matter? 

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The Southern Ocean plays a disproportionately important role in ocean carbon drawdown, accounting for >40% of global anthropogenic C uptake. Cycling of carbon in the oceans is governed by physical and biological processes, and the biological component is limited in many Southern Ocean regions by scarcity of iron (Fe).

Although the deep waters of the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) are crucial in supplying Fe to waters downstream, we have a poor understanding how Fe is stabilised during transport, and how much different Fe phases (soluble, colloidal, particulate) contribute to deep water inventories. Moreover, it remains unclear how the generation of different size fractions of Fe in sediments, and their subsequent release, is linked to hotspots of surface productivity and interactions with different sedimentary components such as silica. The WAP is the fastest warming region of the southern hemisphere, and the impacts on Fe transport in a changing climate is unknown, hindering predictions of how the downstream drawdown of atmospheric carbon will change in the future.

This project will use novel radium-based approaches to address the key questions:

  1. What phases of Fe are most stable in deep shelf waters, and what are the implications for large-scale transport?
  2. Is the stability of iron linked to hotspots of remineralization?

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Dr Amber Annett (University of Southampton)
  • Dr Kate Hendry (British Antarctic Survey)
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