Biogeochemical records of past global iron connections

Z. S. An, J. Cao, Katrine Krogh Andersen, H. Kawahata, R. Arimoto

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Paleorecords of dust deposition can be used to evaluate global iron connections under conditions different from those today. Dust production and deposition has co-varied with ocean paleoproductivity, pCO2, and climate over glacial interglacial cycles, and in this paper we review the current understanding and highlight research needs with respect to paleorecords of global iron connections. These records, which include data from terrestrial (loess) deposits, marine sediments, and ice cores, suggest that average eolian deposition rates were approximately 2–20 times higher during glacial periods than during interglacials. Enhanced dust fluxes to the oceans during glacial times, particularly to the main high-nutrient/low-chlorophyll (HNLC) areas of the open ocean (i.e., the Pacific subarctic, the equatorial Pacific, and the Southern Ocean), may have “fertilized” marine biota, thereby enhancing ocean productivity (1–2 fold) and driving atmospheric CO2 lower. Current models yield variable results, however, with glacialinterglacial changes in dust fluxes changing atmospheric pCO2 by the equivalent of 5 to >50% of the total glacial-interglacial change of 80–100 ppm. Positive correlations among Asian dust, ocean productivity and atmospheric CO2 in last 130 kyr, 1200 yr and 50 yr indicate that eolian iron has played an important role in global biogeochemical cycles of the past. A simple calculation suggests that one-tenth to one-third of the global change in CO2 due to dust-supplied Fe could be ascribed to variations in the dust supply flux from Asia and its associated effects on productivity in the Pacific Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Union of Geosciences
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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