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Can land use intensification in the Mallee, Australia increase the supply of soluble iron to the Southern Ocean?

Bhattachan, Abinash; D'Odorico, Paolo
Bhattachan, Abinash
D'Odorico, Paolo
The supply of soluble iron through atmospheric dust deposition limits the productivity of the Southern Ocean. In comparison to the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere exhibits low levels of dust activity. However, given their proximity to the Southern Ocean, dust emissions from continental sources in the Southern Hemisphere could have disproportionate impact on ocean productivity. Australia is the largest source of dust in the Southern Hemisphere and aeolian transport of dust has major ecological, economic and health implications. In the Mallee, agriculture is a major driver of dust emissions and dust storms that affect Southeastern Australia. In this study, we assess the dust generating potential of the sediment from the Mallee, analyze the sediment for soluble iron content and determine the likely depositional region of the emitted dust. Our results suggest that the Mallee sediments have comparable dust generating potential to other currently active dust sources in the Southern Hemisphere and the dust-sized fraction is rich in soluble iron. Forward trajectory analyses show that this dust will impact the Tasman Sea and the Australian section of the Southern Ocean. This iron-rich dust could stimulate ocean productivity in future as more areas are reactivated as a result of land-use and droughts.
Nature Publishing Group, 2014
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