Desert dust transported over large distances through the atmosphere with the offshore trade winds is a potential fertilizer of the ocean. NIOZ traces dust originating from the Sahara desert across the whole North-Atlantic Ocean using a trans-Atlantic array of moored equipment with a dust-collecting buoy at the surface and sediment traps in the ocean below it.
Below you see a series of seven daily satellite pictures (copyright NASA) in summer 2013, showing the progression of a dust outbreak in norhtwest Africa, blowing across the Atlantic Ocean:
Every year, numerous of such dust events take place and in total about 180 Million Tons of so-called mineral dust are blown out from the northwest African deserts (including Sahara and Sahel) westward across the Atlantic Ocean. Recent satellite measurements by NASA have demonstrated that between Africa and the Caribbean, about 140 Million Tons are deposited on the ocean as well as on the South-American rainforest.
Such amounts of dust deposited over such a big area are likely to have an impact. In two affiliated projects at NIOZ and another one at partner institute MARUM-Bremen we are studying Saharan dust by collecting it with instruments that we placed underneath the dust plume. We deployed tethered buoys with autonomous dust collectors, powered by solar panels, which suck air through filters. In addition, we placed moorings with sediment traps to collect material settling through the ocean. Both the buoys and moorings provide time series of dust, which we compare with satellite images and meteorological data.
A third way to sample deposited dust is by taking sediment cores from the ocean floor.
In 2012 we deployed the instruments for the first time and we re-visited the instruments regularly throughout the past few years using various research vessels such as NIOZ' own RV Pelagia, but also on foreign ships such as FS Maria S Merian, FS Meteor and RRS James Cook.
With the new website, the blogs that were kept during these cruises have disappeared. You can still read about what we did at sea on an external website: www.stuut.tv
- Expedition MedDust2023 (September 2023)
- Expedition 64PE514 (March 2023)
- Expedition MedDust2022 (June 2022)
- Expedition MSM104 (Nov-Dec 2021)
- Expedition 64PE482 (Jan-Feb 2021)
- Expedition 64PE464 (autumn 2019)
- Expedition MSM79 (autumn 2018)
- Expedition 64PE443 (summer 2018)
- Expedition M140 (summer 2017)
- Expedition JC134 (spring 2016)
- Expedition MSM48 (fall 2015)
- Expedition 64PE395 (winter 2015)
....and older ones
The projects TRAFFIC (funded by NWO) and DUSTTRAFFIC (funded by ERC) focus on the marine-environmental effects of dust deposition and we have published some very nice results already, with more papers coming up!
In November 2019 we will set sail again on board RV Pelagia to service the instruments and collect the samples that were collected during the past year. Keep an eye on this website and the blog to follow our adventures at sea!
More dusty news is presented through NIOZ' dust blog:
October 2023: expedition MedDust2023
In a short hit-and-run expedition onboard Tug Lione, we service the Mediterranean sediment-trap mooring. Please read the blog
August 2023: Dust to remove atmospheric CH4
In a new publication we demonstrate yet another way in which desert dust can influence the Earth's climate; through removal of the greenhouse gas methane (CH4).
Click here to read the PNAS-paper
Click here to read the press release
July 2023: ICAR meeting
Anouk and Jan-Berend attended the ICAR - International Conference on Aeolian Research in Las Cruces, NM, USA. It included a field trip to the Samalayuca dunefield in the Mexican Chihuahua Desert: a dusty place!
March 2023: Expedition 64PE514 - Dust2023
In March we will set sail again onboard RV Pelagia and service our dust-collecting instruments in the eastern subtropical eastern North Atlantic Ocean. You can follow our whereabouts through this blog
November 2022 - buoy on the run
Buoy Carmen had somehow escaped from her mooring line and drifted southward with the Canary Current. Fortunately, British colleagues onboard RRS Discovery were in the area and willing and able to pick her up and deliver her to the OSCM in Mindelo where she waits until we re-deploy her during the upcoming expedition onboard RV Pelagia.
Here you can read about Carmen's adventures.
Anouk van Boxtel started her PhD project in the framework of the UU-NIOZ collaboration. The next four years she will study Saharan dust in the Mediterranean Sea.
21 October 2021
Jan-Berend formally accepts the chair of Aeolian Sedimentology by giving an inaugural address.
1 March 2021
Jan-Berend appointed honorary professor at VU Amsterdam with the chair of Aeolian Sedimentology.
14 August 2020
Relationship between dust, productivity and particle export in the tropical Atlantic.
Michèlle successfully defended her PhD thesis today and may proudly call herself a PhD!
Laura successfully defended her PhD thesis today and may proudly call herself a PhD!
Launch of the website Dustco, an affiliated project website by Dr. Catarina Guerreiro.
Dr Catarina Guerreiro receives a Marie-Curie fellowship to work on dust
Catarina was awarded a Marie-Curie fellowship to work on a project called "DUSTCO: Effects of atmospheric dust deposition on coccolithophore production". She will spend most of her time working with Prof Vanda Brotas at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, studying the response of phytoplankton (coccolithophores) to Saharan dust deposition, working on the sediment traps that were deployed between Africa and the Caribbean.
PAGES - DICE workshop at the University of Chile biological station of Las Cruces (Chile)
During three days, some 30 dust specialists gathered to discuss the state of the art of the environmental impacts of desert dust on the ocean. Catarina Guerreiro, Laura Korte and Jan-Berend also teamed up and presented our latest results.
External project partners
- Catarina Guerreiro (Lisbon, Portugal)
- Ute Merkel (Bremen, Germany)
Former members of our Dust team
- Carmen Friese (in industry, Germany)
- Chris Munday (in industry, Canada)
- Dirk Jong (now PhD student at VUA)
- Esmee Geerken (now PhD student at NIOZ)
- Felix Temmesfeld (graduated from Bremen University, Germany)
- Fleur v. Crimpen (now PhD student at VUA)
- Hans v. Hateren (now PhD student at VUA)
- Katharina Wetterauer (now Master's student at Bremen University)
- Korinna Kunde (now Master's student at NOC-Southampton)
- Laura Korte (now in consultancy)
- Marije Hoegen (now Master's student at Ghent University)
- Merrith Hogenes (graduated from VUA)
- Michèlle van der Does (now post-doc at AWI-Bremerhaven)
- Monica Martens (graduated from VUA)
- Oliver Knebel (now PhD student in Auckland, NZ)
Recently published papers
Korte, L.F., Brummer, G-J A., Van der Does, M., Guerreiro, C.V., Mienis, F., Munday, C.I., Ponsoni, L., Schouten, S., Stuut, J-B W. (2020) Multiple drivers of production and particle export in the western tropical North Atlantic. Limnology & Oceanography DOI: 10.1002/lno.11442
Van der Does, M., Brummer, G-J A., Van Crimpen, C.J., Korte, L.F., Mahowald, N.M., Merkel, U., Yu, H., Zuidema, P., Stuut, J-B W. (2020) Tropical rains controlling deposition of Saharan dust across the North Atlantic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 47 DOI: 10.1029/2019GL086867
Guerreiro, C.V., Baumann, K-H., Brummer, G-J A., Korte, L.F., Sá, C., Stuut, J-B W. (2019)
Transatlantic gradients in calcifying phytoplankton (coccolithophore) fluxes
Progress in Oceanography 176 DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2019.102140
Stuut, j-B W., De Deckker, P., Saavedra-Pellitero, M., Bassinot, F., Walczak, M.H., Nagashima, K., Murayama, M. (2019)
A 5.3 million-year history of monsoonal precipitation in northwestern Australia
Geophysical Research Letter’ 46 (12), 6946-6954 DOI:10.1029/2019GL083035
Van der Does, M., Knippertz, P., Zschenderlein, P., Harrison, R.G., Stuut, J-B W. (2018) The mysterious long-range transport of giant mineral dust particles
Science Advances DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau2768
Korte, L. F., Pausch, F., Trimborn, S., Brussaard, C. P. D., Brummer, G.-J. A., van der Does, M., Guerreiro, C. V., Schreuder, L. T., Munday, C. I., and Stuut, J.-B. W. 2018. Effects of dry and wet Saharan dust deposition in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean, Biogeosciences Discuss. (in review)
Van der Does, M.; Pourmand, A.; Sharifi, A.; Stuut, J-B W. 2018. North African mineral dust across the tropical Atlantic Ocean: insights from dust particle size, radiogenic Sr-Nd-Hf isotopes and rare earth elements (REE). Aeolian Research 33, 106-116 doi:10.1016/j.aeolia.2018.06.001
Van der Jagt, H.; Friese, C.; Stuut, J-B W.; Fischer, G. & Iversen, M.H. (2018). The ballasting effect of Saharan dust deposition on aggregate dynamics and carbon export: Aggregation, settling, and scavenging potential of marine snow. Limnology and Oceanography 63, 1386-1394, doi:10.1002/lno.10779 .
Schreuder, L.T., Hopmans, E.C., Stuut, J-B W., Sinninghe-Damsté, J.S., Schouten, S. 2018.
Transport and deposition of the fire biomarker levoglucosan across the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 227, 171-185
Schreuder, L.T., Stuut, J-B W., Korte, L.F., Sinninghe-Damsté, J.S., Schouten, S. 2018.
Aeolian transport and deposition of plant wax n-alkanes across the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Organic Geochemistry 115, 113-123
Guerreiro, C.V., Baumann, K.H., Brummer, G.J.A., Fischer, G., Korte, L.F., Merkel, U., Sá, C., de Stigter, H., Stuut, J.B.W., 2017. Coccolithophore fluxes in the open tropical North Atlantic: influence of the Amazon river and of Saharan dust deposition. Biogeosciences Discuss. 2017, 1-26.
Korte, L.F., Brummer, G.J.A., van der Does, M., Guerreiro, C.V., Hennekam, R., van Hateren, J.A., Jong, D., Munday, C.I., Schouten, S., Stuut, J.B.W., 2017. Downward particle fluxes of biogenic matter and Saharan dust across the equatorial North Atlantic. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 17, 6023-6040.
Van der Does, M., Korte, L.F., Munday, C.I., Brummer, G.J.A., Stuut, J.B.W., 2016. Particle size traces modern Saharan dust transport and deposition across the equatorial North Atlantic. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 16, 13697-13710.