Earth, Wind, Fire, and Pollution: Aerosol Nutrient Sources and Impacts on Ocean Biogeochemistry

Douglas S. Hamilton, Morgane M.G. Perron, Tami C. Bond, Andrew R. Bowie, Rebecca R. Buchholz, Cecile Guieu, Akinori Ito, Willy Maenhaut, Stelios Myriokefalitakis, Nazli Olgun, Sagar D. Rathod, Kerstin Schepanski, Alessandro Tagliabue, Robert Wagner, Natalie M. Mahowald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A key Earth system science question is the role of atmospheric deposition in supplying vital nutrients to the phytoplankton that form the base of marine food webs. Industrial and vehicular pollution, wildfires, volcanoes, biogenic debris, and desert dust all carry nutrients within their plumes throughout the globe. In remote ocean ecosystems, aerosol deposition represents an essential new source of nutrients for primary production. The large spatiotemporal variability in aerosols from myriad sources combined with the differential responses of marine biota to changing fluxes makes it crucially important to understand where, when, and how much nutrients from the atmosphere enter marine ecosystems. This review brings together existing literature, experimental evidence of impacts, and new atmospheric nutrient observations that can be compared with atmospheric and ocean biogeochemistry modeling. We evaluate the contribution and spatiotemporal variability of nutrient-bearing aerosols from desert dust, wildfire, volcanic, and anthropogenic sources, including the organic component, deposition fluxes, and oceanic impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-330
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Marine Science
StatePublished - Jan 3 2022


  • Mineral dust
  • fires
  • ocean biogeochemistry
  • phosphate
  • soluble iron
  • volcanoes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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