Conversations I Wish I Had

Massive amounts of Saharan dust fertilize the Amazon rainforest

“This is a small world, and we’re all connected together,” Yu said.

After Big Bang

This conceptual image depicts dust from the Saharan Desert crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon rainforest in South America. Credit: Conceptual Image Lab, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center This conceptual image depicts dust from the Saharan Desert crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon rainforest in South America.
Credit: Conceptual Image Lab, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Every year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust cross the Atlantic Ocean, bringing vital phosphorus and other fertilizers to depleted Amazon soils. For the first time, scientists have an accurate estimate of how much phosphorus makes this trans-Atlantic journey.

For the first time, scientists have an accurate estimate of how much phosphorus makes this trans-Atlantic journey. A new paper, accepted for publication Feb. 24, 2015 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, puts the number at about 22,000 tons per year, which roughly matches the amount that the Amazon loses from rain and flooding.

This phosphorus accounts for just 0.08% of the 27.7 million tons of Saharan dust that settles in the Amazon every year. The finding is part of a…

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This entry was posted on March 1, 2015 by .
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