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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Oct 2;46(19):10390-404. doi: 10.1021/es300073u. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Atmospheric transport and deposition of mineral dust to the ocean: implications for research needs.

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  • 1Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway. michael.schulz@met.no


This paper reviews our knowledge of the measurement and modeling of mineral dust emissions to the atmosphere, its transport and deposition to the ocean, the release of iron from the dust into seawater, and the possible impact of that nutrient on marine biogeochemistry and climate. Of particular concern is our poor understanding of the mechanisms and quantities of dust deposition as well as the extent of iron solubilization from the dust once it enters the ocean. Model estimates of dust deposition in remote oceanic regions vary by more than a factor of 10. The fraction of the iron in dust that is available for use by marine phytoplankton is still highly uncertain. There is an urgent need for a long-term marine atmospheric surface measurement network, spread across all oceans. Because the southern ocean is characterized by large areas with high nitrate but low chlorophyll surface concentrations, that region is particularly sensitive to the input of dust and iron. Data from this region would be valuable, particularly at sites downwind from known dust source areas in South America, Australia, and South Africa. Coordinated field experiments involving both atmospheric and marine measurements are recommended to address the complex and interlinked processes and role of dust/Fe fertilization on marine biogeochemistry and climate.

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