Lin, Y.-C., J.-P. Chen*, T.-Y. Ho and I-C. Tsai, 2015: Atmospheric iron deposition in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean and its adjacent marginal seas: the importance of coal burning. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 29, 2, 138–159. doi:10.1002/2013GB004795.


This study applied a regional air-quality model, incorporated with an emission module, to quantitatively differentiate the atmospheric iron sources originating from lithogenic dusts or coal-burning fly ashes deposited in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas. Particular attention was paid to the high iron content of fly ashes emitted from steel and iron plants burning coals. Using the year 2007 as an example, the modeling results exhibit large seasonal variations in iron deposition, with highest deposition fluxes occurred during spring and autumn, which are comparable to the seasonal fluctuation of chlorophyll a concentrations estimated by satellite images in the oceanic regions. Fly ash from coal burning accounted for 7.2% of the total iron deposited over the Northwest Pacific Ocean and 15% of that over the northern South China Sea. After considering the difference of iron solubility in the aerosols, anthropogenic aerosol associated with coal burning would be the major bioavailable iron source in the surface water of the oceanic regions.



(a) Fraction (in %) of fly-ash iron deposition in total iron deposition;

(b) Fraction (in %) of fly-ash soluble iron deposition in total soluble iron deposition;

(c) Fraction (in %) of combustion iron deposition associated with steel plant emissions.

All fractions were calculated for the year 2007.