Articles | Volume 13, issue 24
Biogeosciences, 13, 6519–6543, 2016
Biogeosciences, 13, 6519–6543, 2016

Research article 15 Dec 2016

Research article | 15 Dec 2016

Bioavailable atmospheric phosphorous supply to the global ocean: a 3-D global modeling study

Stelios Myriokefalitakis1, Athanasios Nenes2,3,4,5, Alex R. Baker6, Nikolaos Mihalopoulos1,5, and Maria Kanakidou1 Stelios Myriokefalitakis et al.
  • 1Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, P.O. Box 2208, 70013 Heraklion, Greece
  • 2Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences (ICE-HT), FORTH, P.O. Box 1414, 26504 Patras, Greece
  • 3School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 311 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 4School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 311 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • 5National Observatory of Athens, Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, Athens, Greece
  • 6Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Abstract. The atmospheric cycle of phosphorus (P) is parameterized here in a state-of-the-art global 3-D chemistry transport model, taking into account primary emissions of total P (TP) and soluble P (DP) associated with mineral dust, combustion particles from natural and anthropogenic sources, bioaerosols, sea spray and volcanic aerosols. For the present day, global TP emissions are calculated to be roughly 1.33 Tg-P yr−1, with the mineral sources contributing more than 80 % to these emissions. The P solubilization from mineral dust under acidic atmospheric conditions is also parameterized in the model and is calculated to contribute about one-third (0.14 Tg-P yr−1) of the global DP atmospheric source. To our knowledge, a unique aspect of our global study is the explicit modeling of the evolution of phosphorus speciation in the atmosphere. The simulated present-day global annual DP deposition flux is 0.45 Tg-P yr−1 (about 40 % over oceans), showing a strong spatial and temporal variability. Present-day simulations of atmospheric P aerosol concentrations and deposition fluxes are satisfactory compared with available observations, indicating however an underestimate of about 70 % on current knowledge of the sources that drive the P atmospheric cycle. Sensitivity simulations using preindustrial (year 1850) anthropogenic and biomass burning emission scenarios showed a present-day increase of 75 % in the P solubilization flux from mineral dust, i.e., the rate at which P is converted into soluble forms, compared to preindustrial times, due to increasing atmospheric acidity over the last 150 years. Future reductions in air pollutants due to the implementation of air-quality regulations are expected to decrease the P solubilization flux from mineral dust by about 30 % in the year 2100 compared to the present day. Considering, however, that all the P contained in bioaerosols is readily available for uptake by marine organisms, and also accounting for all other DP sources, a total bioavailable P flux of about 0.17 Tg-P yr−1 to the oceans is derived. Our calculations further show that in some regions more than half of the bioavailable P deposition flux to the ocean can originate from biological particles, while this contribution is found to maximize in summer when atmospheric deposition impact on the marine ecosystem is the highest due to ocean stratification. Thus, according to this global study, a largely unknown but potentially important role of terrestrial bioaerosols as suppliers of bioavailable P to the global ocean is also revealed. Overall, this work provides new insights to the atmospheric P cycle by demonstrating that biological materials are important carriers of bioavailable P, with very important implications for past and future responses of marine ecosystems to global change.

Short summary
The global atmospheric cycle of P is simulated accounting for natural and anthropogenic sources, acid dissolution of dust aerosol and changes in atmospheric acidity. Simulations show that P-containing dust dissolution flux may have increased in the last 150 years but is expected to decrease in the future, and biological particles are important carriers of bioavailable P to the ocean. These insights to the P cycle have important implications for marine ecosystem responses to climate change.
Final-revised paper