The likelihood of observing dust-stimulated phytoplankton growth in waters proximal to the Australian continent

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Journal Article
Journal of Marine Systems, 2013, 117-118 pp. 43 - 52
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We develop a tool to assist in identifying a link between naturally occurring aeolian dust deposition and phytoplankton response in the ocean. Rather than examining a single, or small number of dust deposition events, we take a climatological approach to estimate the likelihood of observing a definitive link between dust deposition and a phytoplankton bloom for the oceans proximal to the Australian continent. We use a dust storm index (DSI) to determine dust entrainment in the Lake Eyre Basin (LEB) and an ensemble of modelled atmospheric trajectories of dust transport from the basin, the major dust source in Australia. Deposition into the ocean is computed as a function of distance from the LEB source and the local over-ocean precipitation. The upper ocean's receptivity to nutrients, including dust-borne iron, is defined in terms of time-dependent, monthly climatological fields for light, mixed layer depth and chlorophyll concentration relative to the climatological monthly maximum. The resultant likelihood of a dust-phytoplankton link being observed is then mapped as a function of space and time. Our results suggest that the Southern Ocean (north of 45°S), the North West Shelf, and Great Barrier Reef are ocean regions where a rapid biological response to dust inputs is most likely to be observed. Conversely, due to asynchrony between deposition and ocean receptivity, direct causal links appear unlikely to be observed in the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean south of 45°S. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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