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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57656. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057656. Epub 2013 Feb 27.

Variability in the correlation between Asian dust storms and chlorophyll a concentration from the North to Equatorial Pacific.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. sctan@mail.iap.ac.cn

Abstract

A long-term record of Asian dust storms showed seven high-occurrence-frequency centers in China. The intrusion of Asian dust into the downwind seas, including the China seas, the Sea of Japan, the subarctic North Pacific, the North Pacific subtropical gyre, and the western and eastern Equatorial Pacific, has been shown to add nutrients to ocean ecosystems and enhance their biological activities. To explore the relationship between the transported dust from various sources to the six seas and oceanic biological activities with different nutrient conditions, the correlation between monthly chlorophyll a concentration in each sea and monthly dust storm occurrence frequencies reaching the sea during 1997-2007 was examined in this study. No correlations were observed between dust and chlorophyll a concentration in the <50 m China seas because atmospheric deposition is commonly believed to exert less impact on coastal seas. Significant correlations existed between dust sources and many sea areas, suggesting a link between dust and chlorophyll a concentration in those seas. However, the correlation coefficients were highly variable. In general, the correlation coefficients (0.54-0.63) for the Sea of Japan were highest, except for that between the subarctic Pacific and the Taklimakan Desert, where it was as high as 0.7. For the >50 m China seas and the North Pacific subtropical gyre, the correlation coefficients were in the range 0.32-0.57. The correlation coefficients for the western and eastern Equatorial Pacific were relatively low (<0.36). These correlation coefficients were further interpreted in terms of the geographical distributions of dust sources, the transport pathways, the dust deposition, the nutrient conditions of oceans, and the probability of dust storms reaching the seas.

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