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Atmospheric acidification of mineral aerosols: A source of bioavailable phosphorus for the oceans

by A. Nenes, M. D. Krom, N. Mihalopoulos, P. Van Cappellen, Z. Shi, A. Bougiatioti, P. Zarmpas, B. Herut
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()
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Abstract

Primary productivity of continental and marine ecosystems is often limited or co-limited by phosphorus. De-position of atmospheric aerosols provides the major external source of phosphorus to marine surface waters. However, only a fraction of deposited aerosol phosphorus is water sol-uble and available for uptake by phytoplankton. We propose that atmospheric acidification of aerosols is a prime mecha-nism producing soluble phosphorus from soil-derived miner-als. Acid mobilization is expected to be pronounced where polluted and dust-laden air masses mix. Our hypothesis is supported by the soluble compositions and reconstructed pH values for atmospheric particulate matter samples col-lected over a 5-yr period at Finokalia, Crete. In addition, at least tenfold increase in soluble phosphorus was observed when Saharan soil and dust were acidified in laboratory ex-periments which simulate atmospheric conditions. Aerosol acidification links bioavailable phosphorus supply to anthro-pogenic and natural acidic gas emissions, and may be a key regulator of ocean biogeochemistry.

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