Atmospheric deposition of organic and black carbon to the global oceans

Elena Jurado, Jordi Dachs, Carlos M. Duarte, Rafel Simó

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212 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospheric deposition of total organic carbon (OC) and black carbon (BC) is lacking or not fully accounted in most current models of the global carbon cycling, specially those fluxes related to gas phase OC. Here, we develop and apply a methodology to estimate wet and dry deposition of total OC to the oceans, based on monthly satellite measurements of aerosol size distributions, wind speed, etc., and estimates of deposition for aerosols and organic compounds. The parameterization of dry deposition velocities account for the dependence of turbulent transport with aerosol diameter, wind speed and the formation of marine aerosol, etc. Gravitational settling is estimated as a function of wet particle diameter, thus including hygroscopic growth due to ambient humidity. Global dry deposition of aerosol OC is estimated to be 11 Tg C y-1 and wet deposition of particle and gaseous OC are estimated as 47 and 187 Tg C y-1, respectively. Due to their pulsing variability, wet deposition fluxes can be important locally and as a temporal source of OC to surface waters. Dry and wet deposition of black carbon to the global ocean are estimated to be 2 and 10 Tg C yr-1, respectively, with higher fluxes in the northern hemisphere and for inter-tropical regions. Finally, considerations on the potential magnitude of the hitherto neglected gross air-sea diffusive exchange fluxes of OC are discussed. Even though the magnitude and direction of these cannot be constrained here, evidence of its important role is given. This study, thus, shows that there is an important spatial and temporal variability in atmosphere-ocean exchanges of OC and BC at different scales, and calls for the need for further research on the important role that these exchanges play in the global carbon cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7931-7939
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Black carbon
  • Carbon cycle
  • Diffusive atmosphere-ocean exchanges
  • Organic carbon


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