Phytoplankton and bacterial response to desert dust deposition in the coastal waters of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea: A four-year in situ survey

Eyal Rahav, Natalia Belkin, Adina Paytan, Barak Herut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Atmospheric dust/aerosol deposition is an important source of external nutrients for the surface of the ocean. This study shows high-resolution observational data gathered in situ over a period of four years on bacterial and phytoplankton abundance and activity during typical background atmospheric conditions and during intense dust storm events in the low-nutrient, low-chlorophyll (LNLC) coastal waters of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea (SEMS). Chlorophyll a (an estimate for phytoplankton biomass) and bacterial abundance show moderate changes in response to dust deposition/events (-10% and +20%, respectively), while primary production, bacterial production, and N2 fixation rates were all significantly and positively affected by deposition (+25 to +40%; p < 0.05). The rapid changes in bacterial and/or phytoplankton rate parameters suggest that the released micro-/macronutrients from atmospheric deposition are tunneled directly in metabolic processes and, to a lesser extent, for biomass accumulation. The predicted expansion of LNLC areas in oceans in the future, and the projected increase in dust emission due to desertification, may affect the production of marine microbial communities in the surface of the ocean, yet only moderately affect their biomass or standing stock. Such alterations may impact carbon sequestration to the deep ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Article number305
JournalATMOSPHERE
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation grant number 1211/17, and by the NSF-OCE grant number 0850467.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.

Keywords

  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Bacterial production
  • Chlorophyll a
  • Desert dust
  • N fixation
  • Primary production
  • Southeastern Mediterranean Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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