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Iron content and solubility in dust from high-alpine snow along a north-south transect of High Asia

Author(s): Guangjian Wu | Chenglong Zhang | Zhongqin Li | Xuelei Zhang | Shaopeng Gao

Journal: Tellus B
ISSN 0280-6509

Volume: 64;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Asian dust | high-alpine snow | iron content | iron solubility

This study describes the dissolved and insoluble iron fraction of dust (mineral aerosol) in high-alpine snow samples collected along a north-south transect across High Asia (Eastern Tien Shan, Qilian Shan, and Southern Tibetan Plateau). This dust provides the basic chemical properties of mid- and high-level tropospheric Asian dust that can supply the limiting iron nutrient for phytoplankton growth in the North Pacific. The iron content in Asian dust averages 4.95% in Eastern Tien Shan, 3.38–5.41% along Qilian Shan and 3.85% in the Southern Tibetan Plateau. The iron fractional solubility averages about 0.25% in Eastern Tien Shan, 0.05–2% along Qilian Shan and 1.5% in the Southern Tibetan Plateau. Among the controlling factors that can affect iron solubility in Asian dust, such as dust composition and particle grain size, acidity seems to be the most significant and can increase the iron solubility by one or two orders of magnitude with acidification of pH=0.66. Our results reveal that iron solubility of dust in the remote downwind sites is higher than that in high-alpine snow, confirming the strong pH-dependence of iron solubility, and indicating that Asian dust shows a large variation in iron solubility on a regional scale.
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