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Can Asian dust trigger phytoplankton blooms in the oligotrophic northern South...

Wang, S., N. C. Hsu, S. Tsay, N. Lin, A. M. Sayer, S. Huang, and W. Lau (2012), Can Asian dust trigger phytoplankton blooms in the oligotrophic northern South China Sea?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L05811, doi:10.1029/2011GL050415.
Abstract: 

Satellite data estimate a high dust deposition flux (~18 g m-2 a-1) into the northern South China Sea (SCS). However, observational evidence concerning any biological response to dust fertilization is sparse. In this study, we combined long-term aerosol and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) measurements from satellite sensors (MODIS and SeaWiFS) with a 16-year record of dust events from surface PM10 observations to investigate dust transport, flux, and the changes in Chl-a concentration over the northern SCS. Our result revealed that readily identifiable strong dust events over this region, although relatively rare (6 cases since 1994) and accounting for only a small proportion of the total dust deposition (~0.28 g m-2 a-1), do occur and could significantly enhance phytoplankton blooms. Following such events, the Chl-a concentration increased up to 4-fold, and generally doubled the springtime background value (0.15 mg m-3). We suggest these heavy dust events contain readily bioavailable iron and enhance the phytoplankton growth in the oligotrophic northern SCS.

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Research Program: 
Interdisciplinary Science Program (IDS)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)