Modeling dust and soluble iron deposition to the South Atlantic Ocean

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering; Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The global chemical transport model GEOS‐Chem, implemented with a dust‐iron dissolution scheme, was used to analyze the magnitude and spatial distribution of mineral dust and soluble‐iron (sol‐Fe) deposition to the South Atlantic Ocean (SAO). The comparison of model results with remotely sensed data shows that GEOS‐Chem can capture dust source regions in Patagonia and characterize the temporal variability of dust outflow. For a year‐long model simulation, 22 Tg of mineral dust and 4 Gg of sol‐Fe were deposited to the surface waters of the entire SAO region, with roughly 30% of this dust and sol‐Fe predicted to be deposited to possible high nitrate low chlorophyll oceanic regions. Model‐predicted dissolved iron fraction of mineral dust over the SAO was small, on average only accounting for 0.57% of total iron. Simulations suggest that the primary reason for such a small fraction of sol‐Fe is the low ambient concentrations of acidic trace gases available for mixing with dust plumes. Overall, the amount of acid added to the deliquesced aerosol solution was not enough to overcome the alkalinity buffer of Patagonian dust and initiate considerable acid dissolution of mineral‐iron. Sensitivity studies show that the amount of sol‐Fe deposited to the SAO was largely controlled by the initial amount of sol‐Fe at the source region, with limited contribution from the spatial variability of Patagonian‐desert topsoil mineralogy and natural sources of acidic trace gases. Simulations suggest that Patagonian dust should have a minor effect on biological productivity in the SAO.

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Journal of Geophysical Research