Theme 3: Atmospheric deposition and ocean biogeochemistry


Atmospheric deposition is an important nutrient source for marine ecosystems, with consequences on local, regional, and global biogeochemical cycles, as well as on the climate system. Theme 3 focuses on the relationships between natural and anthropogenic atmospheric inputs, the marine carbon cycle, and feedbacks to climate. The fundamental processes driving aerosol emissions, transportation, chemical reaction, and deposition may change atmospheric fluxes and surface mixed layer turnover times. In turn, microbial communities respond to changing atmospheric inputs which may result in opposite effects on the marine carbon and nitrogen budget, as well as on atmospheric carbon dioxide uptake.

files/solas-int/content/downloads/Resources/Figures & Conceptual Diagrams/Theme 3.gif
Figure 3: Main issues, processes, and species relating to Core Theme 3 (processes are indicated in italics).

Theme 3 Team

Team leaders:
Katye Altieri (South Africa,
Phil Boyd (Australia,
Santiago Gassó (United States of America,
Maurice Levasseur (Canada,
Jun Nishioka (Japan,
Parvadha Suntharalingam (United Kingdom,     

Team members:
Alex Baker (United Kingdom,
Ying Chen (United Kingdom,
Peter Croot (Ireland,
Cécile Guieu (France,
Akinori Ito (Japan,
Natalie Mahowald (United States,
Mitsu Uematsu (Japan,

Research questions

Key questions to be addressed within this theme are:

  • How do biogeochemical and ecological processes interact in response to natural and anthropogenic material input from the atmosphere across different regions?
  • How do global warming and other anthropogenic stressors synergistically alter the uptake of atmospheric nutrients and metals by marine biota in different oceanic regions?
  • What are the large-scale impacts of atmospheric deposition to the ocean on global elemental cycles (e.g., C and N) and climate change feedbacks in major marine biomes?

Global key areas
Identify the key areas globally where atmospheric deposition and its impacts are important to marine primary production and biogeochemistry, especially in the Mediterranean Sea, Southern Ocean, Tropical Atlantic, and Western Pacific.

Coupled atmosphere-marine time series Stations
Encourage the setup of time series sampling stations to monitor continuously and estimate precisely the atmospheric deposition fluxes of bio-available nutrients in the open ocean and coastal areas.

Comparative studies and modelling
Carry out comparative studies on the budgets of bio-available nutrients in the surface waters of the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Pacific, and Southern Ocean in order to address the role of atmospheric deposition, particularly in nitrate- and iron-limited regions. With these comparative studies, regional coupled modelling can address both, the atmosphere and the ocean.

New tools
Use new and improved tools to effectively study the impacts of atmospheric deposition on ocean biogeochemistry, such as isotope tracers and molecular biology protocols.

Planned activities


- last update August 2018 -