Crustal tracers are important sources of key limiting nutrients (e.g., iron) in remote ocean regions where they have a large impact on global biogeochemical cycles. However, the atmospheric delivery of bio-available iron to oceans via mineral dust aerosol deposition is poorly constrained. This dissertation aims to improve understanding and model representation of oceanic dust deposition and to provide soluble iron flux maps by testing observations of crustal tracer concentrations and solubilities against predictions from two conceptual solubility models. First, we assemble a database of ocean surface dissolved Al and incorporate Al cycling into the global Biogeochemical Elemental Cycling (BEC) model. The observed Al concentrations show clear basin-scale differences that are useful for constraining dust deposition. The dynamic mixed layer depth and Al residence time in the BEC model significantly improve the simulated dissolved Al field. Some of the remaining model-data discrepancies appear related to the neglect of aerosol size, age, and air mass characteristics in estimating tracer solubility. Next, we develop the Mass-Age Tracking method (MAT) to efficiently and accurately estimate the mass-weighted age of tracers. We apply MAT to four sizes of desert dust aerosol and simulate, for the first time, global distributions of aerosol age in the atmosphere and at deposition. These dust size and age distributions at deposition, together with independent information on air mass acidity, allow us to test two simple yet plausible models for predicting the dissolution of mineral dust iron and aluminum during atmospheric transport. These models represent aerosol solubility as controlled (1) by a diffusive process leaching nutrients from the dust into equilibrium with the liquid water coating or (2) by a process that continually dissolves nutrients in proportion to the particle surface area. The surface-controlled model better captures the spatial pattern of observed solubility in the Atlantic. Neither model improves previous estimates of the solubility in the Pacific, nor do they significantly improve the global BEC simulation of dissolved iron or aluminum.
- Pub Date:
- Chemical Oceanography;Atmospheric Sciences