Articles | Volume 14, issue 7
Research article
07 Apr 2014
Research article |  | 07 Apr 2014

Response of acid mobilization of iron-containing mineral dust to improvement of air quality projected in the future

A. Ito and L. Xu

Abstract. Acidification of dust aerosols may increase aerosol iron (Fe) solubility, which is linked to mineral properties. Combustion aerosols can also elevate aerosol iron solubility when aerosol loading is low. Here, we use an atmospheric chemical transport model to investigate the deposition of filterable iron and its response to changes in anthropogenic emissions of both combustion aerosols and precursor gases. By introducing three classes of iron-containing minerals into the detailed aerosol chemistry model, we provide a theoretical examination of the effects of different dissolution behaviors on the acid mobilization of iron. Comparisons of modeled Fe dissolution curves with the measured dissolution rates for African, east Asian, and Australian dust samples show overall good agreement under acidic conditions. The improved treatment of Fe in mineral dust and its dissolution scheme results in reasonable predictive capability for iron solubility over the oceans in the Northern Hemisphere. Our model results suggest that the improvement of air quality projected in the future will lead to a decrease of the filterable iron deposition from iron-containing mineral dust to the eastern North Pacific due to less acidification in Asian dust, which is mainly associated with the reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. These results could have important implications for iron fertilization of phytoplankton growth, and highlight the necessity of improving the process-based quantitative understanding of the response of the chemical modification in iron-containing minerals to environmental changes.

Final-revised paper