Atmospheric phosphorus deposition in a near-coastal rural site in the NE Iberian Peninsula and its role in marine productivity

Rebeca Izquierdo, Claudia R. Benítez-Nelson, Pere Masqué, Sonia Castillo, Andrés Alastuey, Anna Àvila

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33 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, African red-rains were collected at Montseny (NE Spain) on a weekly basis and analyzed for total particulate phosphorus (TPP), total dissolved P (TDP) and soluble reactive P (SRP) for the period 1996-2008. Wet and dry weekly deposition of TPP was analyzed for all provenances in 2002-2003. In this period, African sources were found to contribute 66% of the 576μmolm -2y -1 of total particulate phosphorus (TPP) deposited in Montseny, split almost evenly between dry and wet deposition. Measurement of this dry deposition further allowed a direct determination of deposition velocity (V d), which suggested significant depositional differences between African (V d=3.1±0.80cms -1) and non-African events (V d=1.07±0.13cms -1). Measurement of TDP concentrations during the African rains suggests a solubility of 11.2% TPP. SRP solubility was lower (2.2%), highlighting the importance of understanding the composition of the atmospherically derived P component. Samples were collected 25km from the Mediterranean coast and were assumed to represent the atmospheric P input to coastal waters. On an annual basis, atmospheric-derived soluble P contributed <1% of annual new primary production in the western Mediterranean. However, one strong African dust event (22-27 May, 2008) accounted for 24-33 % of the atmospheric P-induced annual new production. These results highlight the potential biogeochemical importance of seasonality, source, and composition of aerosols deposited in the Western Mediterranean Sea. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-370
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • African dust
  • Marine productivity
  • Mediterranean
  • Particulate matter
  • Phosphorus
  • Wet/dry deposition

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