The June 2012 issue of Eos featured the first report of the newly formed Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Working Group (WG) 139. The group, chaired by BIOS scientist Dr. Kristen Buck, represents a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of trace metal biogeochemists, organic geochemists, and biogeochemical modelers.
By tapping into the expertise of these individuals, SCOR WG 139 aims to improve the scientific community’s understanding of how organic metal-binding ligands (molecules that form stable associations, or complexes, with trace metals in seawater) operate within the ocean’s biogeochemical cycles.
Metal-binding ligands determine the availability of key trace metals—such as iron, copper, and nickel—to marine organisms, including phytoplankton. As a result, the ligands are important controls on primary productivity in the global ocean and, as such, are also important factors in the global carbon cycle and climate change.
The three primary goals of SCOR WG 139 are to: 1) promote improvements in the quality, accessibility, and development of analytical methodologies for characterizing metal-binding ligands in seawater, 2) characterize which components of the dissolved organic matter make significant contributions to the biogeochemistry of trace metals in the ocean, and 3) identify the role of ligands in microbial ecology and marine biogeochemical cycles.
The next SCOR WG 139 meeting is scheduled for February 2013 ahead of the ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting.