Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
Research article
25 Apr 2018
Research article |  | 25 Apr 2018

Modeling the biogeochemical impact of atmospheric phosphate deposition from desert dust and combustion sources to the Mediterranean Sea

Camille Richon, Jean-Claude Dutay, François Dulac, Rong Wang, and Yves Balkanski

Abstract. Daily modeled fields of phosphate deposition to the Mediterranean from natural dust, anthropogenic combustion and wildfires were used to assess the effect of this external nutrient on marine biogeochemistry. The ocean model used is a high-resolution (1∕12°) regional coupled dynamical–biogeochemical model of the Mediterranean Sea (NEMO-MED12/PISCES). The input fields of phosphorus are for 2005, which are the only available daily resolved deposition fields from the global atmospheric chemical transport model LMDz-INCA. Traditionally, dust has been suggested to be the main atmospheric source of phosphorus, but the LMDz-INCA model suggests that combustion is dominant over natural dust as an atmospheric source of phosphate (PO4, the bioavailable form of phosphorus in seawater) for the Mediterranean Sea. According to the atmospheric transport model, phosphate deposition from combustion (Pcomb) brings on average 40.5×10−6 mol PO4 m−2 yr−1 over the entire Mediterranean Sea for the year 2005 and is the primary source over the northern part (e.g., 101×10−6 mol PO4 m−2 yr−1 from combustion deposited in 2005 over the north Adriatic against 12.4×10−6 from dust). Lithogenic dust brings 17.2×10−6 mol PO4 m−2 yr−1 on average over the Mediterranean Sea in 2005 and is the primary source of atmospheric phosphate to the southern Mediterranean Basin in our simulations (e.g., 31.8×10−6 mol PO4 m−2 yr−1 from dust deposited in 2005 on average over the south Ionian basin against 12.4×10−6 from combustion). The evaluation of monthly averaged deposition flux variability of Pdust and Pcomb for the 1997–2012 period indicates that these conclusions may hold true for different years. We examine separately the two atmospheric phosphate sources and their respective flux variability and evaluate their impacts on marine surface biogeochemistry (phosphate concentration, chlorophyll a, primary production). The impacts of the different phosphate deposition sources on the biogeochemistry of the Mediterranean are found localized, seasonally varying and small, but yet statistically significant. Differences in the geographical deposition patterns between phosphate from dust and from combustion will cause contrasted and significant changes in the biogeochemistry of the basin. We contrast the effects of combustion in the northern basin (Pcomb deposition effects are found to be 10 times more important in the northern Adriatic, close to the main source region) to the effects of dust in the southern basin. These different phosphorus sources should therefore be accounted for in modeling studies.

Short summary
This work is part of the Mermex and ChArMEx projects of the MISTRALS program. It aims at studying the impacts of phosphorus deposition from contrasted sources on the biogeochemical cycles of the Mediterranean Sea. The results show that combustion-related phosphorus deposition effects dominate P deposition over the northern Mediterranean, whereas dust-derived phosphorus deposition effects dominate in the southern part.
Final-revised paper