Estimation of atmospheric nutrient inputs to the Atlantic Ocean from 50°N to 50°S based on large-scale field sampling: Iron and other dust-associated elements

A. R. Baker, Christopher Adams, T. G. Bell, T. D. Jickells, L. Ganzeveld

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82 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric inputs of mineral dust supply iron and other trace metals to the remote ocean and can influence the marine carbon cycle due to iron's role as a potentially limiting micronutrient. Dust generation, transport, and deposition are highly heterogeneous, and there are very few remote marine locations where dust concentrations and chemistry (e.g., iron solubility) are routinely monitored. Here we use aerosol and rainwater samples collected during 10 large-scale research cruises to estimate the atmospheric input of iron, aluminum, and manganese to four broad regions of the Atlantic Ocean over two 3?month periods for the years 2001–2005. We estimate total inputs of these metals to our study regions to be 4.2, 17, and 0.27?Gmol in April–June and 4.9, 14, and 0.19?Gmol in September–November, respectively. Inputs were highest in regions of high rainfall (the intertropical convergence zone and South Atlantic storm track), and rainfall contributed higher proportions of total input to wetter regions. By combining input estimates for total and soluble metals for these time periods, we calculated overall percentage solubilities for each metal that account for the contributions from both wet and dry depositions and the relative contributions from different aerosol types. Calculated solubilities were in the range 2.4%–9.1% for iron, 6.1%–15% for aluminum, and 54%–73% for manganese. We discuss sources of uncertainty in our estimates and compare our results to some recent estimates of atmospheric iron input to the Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-767
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • atmospheric dust
  • iron
  • aluminium
  • manganese
  • Atlantic
  • wet and dry deposition

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