Surface ocean-lower atmosphere interactions in the Northeast Pacific Ocean Gyre: Aerosols, iron, and the ecosystem response

Kenneth S. Johnson, Virginia A. Elrod, Steve E. Fitzwater, Joshua N. Plant, Francisco P. Chavez, Sara J. Tanner, R. Michael Gordon, Douglas L. Westphal, Kevin D. Perry, Jingfeng Wu, David M. Karl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Here we report measurements of iron and aluminum in surface and subsurface waters during late March and late May of 2001 on transects between central California and Hawaii. A large cloud of Asian dust was detected during April 2001, and there was a clear signal in surface water iron due to aerosol deposition on the May transect. Iron and aluminum concentrations increased synchronously by 0.5 and 2 nM along the southern portion of the transect, which includes the Hawaii Ocean Time series (HOT) station, from background values in March (0.1 to 0.2 nM Fe). These changes occured in a ratio that is close to the crustal abundance ratio of the metals, which indicates a soil aerosol source. A vertical profile of dissolved iron was also measured at the HOT station in late April and this profile also shows a large increase near the surface. Direct observations of aerosol iron concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii indicate that aerosol concentrations were significantly lower than climatological values during this period. Soil aerosol concentrations along the transect were estimated using the real-time Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS). The NAAPS results show a large meridional gradient with maximum concentrations in the boundary layer north of 30°N. However, the deposition of iron and aluminum to surface waters was highest south of 25°N, near Hawaii. There were only weak signals in the ecosystem response to the aerosol deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-1 - 32-14
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerosols
  • Aluminum concentration
  • Asian dust
  • Ecosystem response
  • Iron concentration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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