Tropical Rains Controlling Deposition of Saharan Dust Across the North Atlantic Ocean

Michèlle van der Does, Geert Jan A. Brummer, Fleur C.J. van Crimpen, Laura F. Korte, Natalie M. Mahowald, Ute Merkel, Hongbin Yu, Paquita Zuidema, Jan Berend W. Stuut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Mineral dust plays an important role in the atmospheric radiation budget as well as in the ocean carbon cycle through fertilization and by ballasting of settling organic matter. However, observational records of open-ocean dust deposition are sparse. Here, we present the spatial and temporal evolution of Saharan dust deposition over 2 years from marine sediment traps across the North Atlantic, directly below the core of the Saharan dust plume, with highest dust fluxes observed in summer. We combined the observed deposition fluxes with model simulations and satellite observations and argue that dust deposition in the Atlantic is predominantly controlled by summer rains. The dominant depositional pathway changes from wet deposition in summer to dry deposition in winter. Wet deposition has previously been suggested to increase the release of dust-derived nutrients and their bioavailability, which may be a key contributor to surface-ocean productivity in remote and oligotrophic parts of the oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019GL086867
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2020


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • dust deposition
  • mineral dust
  • ocean fertilization
  • wet deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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