Global distribution of atmospheric phosphorus sources, concentrations and deposition rates, and anthropogenic impacts

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Mahowald N., Jickells T. D. , Baker A. R. , Artaxo P., Benitez-Nelson C. R. , Bergametti G., ...More

GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, vol.22, no.4, 2008 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1029/2008gb003240
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus


A worldwide compilation of atmospheric total phosphorus (TP) and phosphate (PO4) concentration and deposition flux observations are combined with transport model simulations to derive the global distribution of concentrations and deposition fluxes of TP and PO4. Our results suggest that mineral aerosols are the dominant source of TP on a global scale (82%), with primary biogenic particles (12%) and combustion sources (5%) important in nondusty regions. Globally averaged anthropogenic inputs are estimated to be similar to 5 and 15% for TP and PO4, respectively, and may contribute as much as 50% to the deposition over the oligotrophic ocean where productivity may be phosphorus-limited. There is a net loss of TP from many (but not all) land ecosystems and a net gain of TP by the oceans (560 Gg P a(-1)). More measurements of atmospheric TP and PO4 will assist in reducing uncertainties in our understanding of the role that atmospheric phosphorus may play in global biogeochemistry.