Aeolian iron input to the ocean through precipitation scavenging: A modeling perspective and its implication for natural iron fertilization in the ocean

Yuan Gao, Song Miao Fan, Jorge Louis Sarmiento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

118 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aeolian dust input may be a critical source of dissolved iron for phytoplankton growth in some oceanic regions. We used an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) to simulate dust transport and removal by dry and wet deposition. Model results show extremely low dust concentrations over the equatorial Pacific and Southern Ocean. We find that wet deposition through precipitation scavenging accounts for ∼40% of the total deposition over the coastal oceans and ∼60% over the open ocean. Our estimates suggest that the annual input of dissolved Fe by precipitation scavenging ranges from 0.5 to 4 × 1012 g yr-1, which is 4-30% of the total aeolian Fe fluxes. Dissolved Fe input through dry deposition is significantly lower than that by wet deposition, accounting for only 0.6-2.4 % of the total Fe deposition. Our upper limit estimate on the fraction of dissolved Fe in the total atmospheric deposition is thus more than three times higher than the value of 10% currently considered as an upper limit for dissolved Fe in Aeolian fluxes. As iron input through precipitation may promote episodic phytoplankton growth in the ocean, measurements of dissolved iron in rainwater over the oceans are needed for the study of oceanic biogeochemical cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ACH 7-1 ACH 7-13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume108
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 16 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Keywords

  • Aeolian iron
  • Dust modeling
  • Iron fertilization
  • Precipitation
  • Wet and dry deposition

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