Trace metals are essential for life in the oceans but are present in extremely low concentrations. The availability of trace elements in surface waters frequently regulates the growth of microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton. As phytoplankton are responsible for taking up atmospheric carbon dioxide and exporting this to the deep ocean, trace elements are key components regulating the carbon cycle. New observations of the distribution of trace metals across all ocean basins from the GEOTRACES program have revealed a fascinating story of how the combination of trace metals interact with the ocean to regulate biological activity in new and surprising ways.

You do not currently have access to this article.