How Well Can We Quantify Dust Deposition to the Ocean?

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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


Deposition of continental mineral aerosols (dust) in the Eastern Tropical North Atlantic Ocean, between the coast of Africa and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, was estimated using several strategies based on the measurement of aerosols, trace metals dissolved in seawater, particulate material filtered from the water column, particles collected by sediment traps and sediments. Most of the data used in this synthesis involve samples collected during US GEOTRACES expeditions in 2010 and 2011, although some results from the literature are also used. Dust deposition generated by a global model serves as a reference against which the results from each observational strategy are compared. Observation-based dust fluxes disagree with one another by as much as two orders of magnitude, although most of the methods produce results that are consistent with the reference model to within a factor of 5. The large range of estimates indicates that further work is needed to reduce uncertainties associated with each method before it can be applied routinely to map dust deposition to the ocean. Calculated dust deposition using observational strategies thought to have the smallest uncertainties is lower than the reference model by a factor of 2-5, suggesting that the model may overestimate dust deposition in our study area.

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Philosophical Transactions A

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