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Wang, SH; Hsu, NC; Tsay, SC; Lin, NH; Sayer, AM; Huang, SJ; Lau, WKM (2012). Can Asian dust trigger phytoplankton blooms in the oligotrophic northern South China Sea?. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 39, L05811.

Satellite data estimate a high dust deposition flux (similar to 18 g m(-2) a(-1)) into the northern South China Sea (SCS). However, observational evidence concerning any biological response to dust fertilization is sparse. In this study, we combined long-term aerosol and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) measurements from satellite sensors (MODIS and SeaWiFS) with a 16-year record of dust events from surface PM10 observations to investigate dust transport, flux, and the changes in Chl-a concentration over the northern SCS. Our result revealed that readily identifiable strong dust events over this region, although relatively rare (6 cases since 1994) and accounting for only a small proportion of the total dust deposition (similar to 0.28 g m(-2) a(-1)), do occur and could significantly enhance phytoplankton blooms. Following such events, the Chl-a concentration increased up to 4-fold, and generally doubled the springtime background value (0.15 mg m(-3)). We suggest these heavy dust events contain readily bioavailable iron and enhance the phytoplankton growth in the oligotrophic northern SCS. Citation: Wang, S.-H., N. C. Hsu, S.-C. Tsay, N.-H. Lin, A. M. Sayer, S.-J. Huang, and W. K. M. Lau (2012), Can Asian dust trigger phytoplankton blooms in the oligotrophic northern South China Sea?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L05811, doi:10.1029/2011GL050415.



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