Aarhus University Seal

Potentially bioavailable iron produced through benthic cycling in glaciated Arctic fjords of Svalbard

New publication by Katja Laufer-Meiser, Alexander B. Michaud, Markus Maisch et al.


The Arctic has the highest warming rates on Earth. Glaciated fjord ecosystems, which are hotspots of carbon cycling and burial, are extremely sensitive to this warming. Glaciers are important for the transport of iron from land to sea and supply this essential nutrient to phytoplankton in high-latitude marine ecosystems. However, up to 95% of the glacially-sourced iron settles to sediments close to the glacial source. Our data show that while 0.6–12% of the total glacially-sourced iron is potentially bioavailable, biogeochemical cycling in Arctic fjord sediments converts the glacially-derived iron into more labile phases, generating up to a 9-fold increase in the amount of potentially bioavailable iron. Arctic fjord sediments are thus an important source of potentially bioavailable iron. However, our data suggests that as glaciers retreat onto land the flux of iron to the sediment-water interface may be reduced. Glacial retreat therefore likely impacts iron cycling in coastal marine ecosystems.