Atmospheric deposition of nutrients to the Atlantic Ocean

A. R. Baker, S. D. Kelly, K. F. Biswas, M. Witt, T. D. Jickells

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The role of atmospheric deposition of iron, nitrogen and phosphorus in supplying nutrients to marine systems has been described, individually, in previous works. Here we examine atmospheric dry deposition of all these nutrients simultaneously, using samples collected during two meridional transects of the Atlantic Ocean. We find that, in line with previous work, desert dust supplies excess iron to the water column. However, primary production promoted by aerosol nitrogen can be sufficient to consume all of the soluble aerosol iron input in some situations. Aerosol N:P is universally very high, so that aerosol is always deficient in P relative to phytoplankton requirements. Nitrogen fixation stimulated by any excess atmospheric iron supply and phytoplankton utilisation of atmospheric nutrient inputs will therefore tend to drive the ecosystem towards P limitation. This emphasises the need to study the biogeochemical impact of atmospheric nutrient deposition in an integrated manner.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

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