, Volume 124, Issue 1–3, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Glacial meltwater from Greenland is not likely to be an important source of Fe to the North Atlantic

  • M. J. HopwoodEmail author
  • S. Bacon
  • K. Arendt
  • D. P. Connelly
  • P. J. Statham
Synthesis and Emerging Ideas


Recent work has shown that glaciers are a globally significant source of the micronutrient Fe to the ocean. Polar regions are particularly susceptible to climate change and have been subject to pronounced warming in the past few decades. In response to this warming, the volume of glacial meltwater runoff from Greenland has increased. This meltwater has a relatively high particulate and dissolved Fe content. Seasonal Fe limitation of marine ecosystems has been found in parts of the North Atlantic, so it has been proposed that increasing fluxes of Fe rich meltwater from Greenland to the North Atlantic could alleviate this Fe limitation and thereby increase marine primary production. However, here we use a synthesis of biogeochemical and physical oceanography studies to suggest that the physical circulation around Greenland does not favour direct export of dissolved or particulate Fe from inshore to offshore waters. The Fe budget in surface waters of the North Atlantic may therefore be insensitive to increasing meltwater fluxes from Greenland.


Iron North Atlantic Glacial flour Greenland 



The authors thank two reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript, the Danish Meteorological Institute for providing satellite images and Kate Davis (Southampton) for Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Hopwood
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Bacon
    • 2
  • K. Arendt
    • 3
  • D. P. Connelly
    • 2
  • P. J. Statham
    • 1
  1. 1.Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.National Oceanography CentreUniversity of Southampton Waterfront CampusSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland

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