Dry and wet deposition of nutrients from the tropical Atlantic atmosphere: Links to primary productivity and nitrogen fixation

A. R. Baker, K. Weston, S. D. Kelly, M. Voss, P. Streu, J. N. Cape

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric deposition fluxes of soluble nutrients (N, P, Si, Fe, Co, Zn) to the tropical North Atlantic were determined during cruise M55 of the German SOLAS programme. Nutrient fluxes were highest in the east of the section along 10°N, owing to the proximity of source regions in West Africa and Europe, and lowest in the west, for both dry and wet deposition modes. In common with other recent studies, atmospheric P and Si inputs during M55 were strongly depleted relative to the stoichiometry of phytoplankton Fe, N, P and Si requirements. Atmospheric N inputs were equivalent to 0.1–4.7% of observed primary productivity during the cruise. Atmospheric nutrient supply was also compared to observed nitrogen fixation rates during M55. While atmospheric Fe supply may have been sufficient to support N fixation (depending on the relationship between our simple Fe leaching experiment and aerosol Fe dissolution in seawater), atmospheric P supply was well below the required rate. The stable nitrogen isotope composition of nitrate–N in aerosol and rain was also determined. Results of a simple model indicate that atmospheric deposition and nitrogen fixation introduce similar amounts of isotopically light nitrogen into surface waters of the study region. This implies that nitrogen isotope-based methods would overestimate nitrogen fixation here by a factor of 2, if atmospheric inputs were not taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1704-1720
Number of pages17
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Issue number10
Early online date25 Jul 2007
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • North Atlantic
  • Nutrients
  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Productivity
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • M55

Cite this