Dust impact on marine biota and atmospheric CO2 during glacial periods

Laurent Bopp, Karen E. Kohfeld, Corinne Le Quéré, Olivier Aumont

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201 Citations (Scopus)


We assess the impact of high dust deposition rates on marine biota and atmospheric CO2 using a state-of-the-art ocean biogeochemistry model and observations. Our model includes an explicit representation of two groups of phytoplankton and colimitation by iron, silicate, and phosphate. When high dust deposition rates from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) are used as input, our model shows an increase in the relative abundance of diatoms in today's iron-limited regions, causing a global increase in export production by 6% and an atmospheric CO2 drawdown of 15 ppm. When the combined effects of changes in dust, temperature, ice cover, and circulation are included, the model reproduces roughly our reconstruction of regional changes in export production during the LGM based on several paleoceanographic indicators. In particular, the model reproduces the latitudinal dipole in the Southern Ocean, driven in our simulations by the conjunction of dust, sea ice, and circulation changes. In the North Pacific the limited open ocean data suggest that we correctly simulate the eastwest gradient in the open ocean, but more data are needed to confirm this result. From our model-data comparison and from the timing of the dust record at Vostok, we argue that our model estimate of the role of dust is realistic and that the maximum impact of high dust deposition on atmospheric CO2 must be
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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