Robotic Observations of Dust Storm Enhancement of Carbon Biomass in the North Pacific


James K. B. Bishop, Russ E. Davis, and Jeffrey T. Sherman (2002)

Science 298, 817-821

Abstract. Two autonomous robotic profiling floats deployed in the subarctic North Pacific on April 10 2001 provided direct records of surface-to-1000 m carbon biomass variability at daily and diurnal time scales. Eight months of real-time data documented the marine biological response to natural events, including hydrographic changes, multiple storms, and the April 2001 dust event. High-frequency observations of upper ocean particulate organic carbon variability show a near doubling of biomass in the mixed layer over a two week period following the passage of a cloud of Gobi desert dust. The temporal evolution of particulate organic carbon enhancement and an increase in chlorophyll use efficiency post dust-storm suggest a biotic response to a natural iron-fertilization by the dust.

Figure: NASA's Earth Probe TOMS Aerosol Sensor Tracks Gobi Desert Dust Across the North Pacific. LBNL's Carbon Explorers observed the ocean's biological response to the dust.

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