The Internal Cycling of Zinc in the Ocean

Saeed Roshan, Tim DeVries, Jingfeng Wu, Gedun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The internal cycling of zinc (Zn) in the ocean has been a longstanding mystery. Particularly, puzzling is the strong correlation between Zn and silicate (SiO 4 4− ), but not phosphate (PO 4 3− ), even though Zn is involved with cell functions that regulate PO 4 3− uptake and are unrelated to SiO 4 4− uptake. To help solve this mystery, we use an artificial neural network to produce global maps of dissolved Zn, and then use a diagnostic model to infer rates of uptake and regeneration for Zn, SiO 4 4− , and PO 4 3− . We find that plankton in the Southern Ocean account for 62 (±32)% of global Zn uptake. The plankton Zn:PO 4 3− uptake ratio increases by more than tenfold from the low latitudes to the Southern Ocean, a much larger range than expected from culture studies, suggesting controls from factors such as iron availability. Reconstruction of particulate Zn (PZn), phosphorus (PP), and biogenic silica (PSi) fluxes reveals that PZn remineralizes like PP, and not like PSi. However, a small flux of PZn into the deep ocean is not matched by an equivalent flux of PP, which is likely due to the combined effects of desorption of scavenged Zn and the input of hydrothermal Zn in the deep ocean. This small difference in the remineralization of PZn and PP, combined with the patterns of surface uptake, eliminates the correlation between Zn and PO 4 3− in the deep ocean and causes a tight correlation between Zn and SiO 4 4− . This coincidental correlation cannot be expected to hold for past and future states of the ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1833-1849
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Zn-Si correlation
  • diagnostic modeling
  • dissolved Zn
  • internal cycling
  • uptake stoichiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Internal Cycling of Zinc in the Ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this