• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

Atmospheric fluxes of organic N and P to the global ocean

Global Biogeochemical Cycles (2012)

Kanakidou M, Duce R A, Prospero J M, Baker A R, Benitez-Nelson C, Dentener F J, Hunter K A, Liss P S, Mahowald N, Okin G S, Sarin M, Tsigaridis K, Uematsu M, Zamora L M and Zhu T (eds)

DOI: 10.1029/2011GB004277

Vol 26, Issue 3


The global tropospheric budget of gaseous and particulate non-methane
organic matter (OM) is re-examined to provide a holistic view of the
role that OM plays in transporting the essential nutrients nitrogen and
phosphorus to the ocean. A global 3-dimensional chemistry-transport
model was used to construct the first global picture of atmospheric
transport and deposition of the organic nitrogen (ON) and organic
phosphorus (OP) that are associated with OM, focusing on the soluble
fractions of these nutrients. Model simulations agree with observations
within an order of magnitude. Depending on location, the observed water
soluble ON fraction ranges from ˜3% to 90% (median of ˜35%)
of total soluble N in rainwater; soluble OP ranges from ˜20-83%
(median of ˜35%) of total soluble phosphorus. The simulations
suggest that the global ON cycle has a strong anthropogenic component
with ˜45% of the overall atmospheric source (primary and
secondary) associated with anthropogenic activities. In contrast, only
10% of atmospheric OP is emitted from human activities. The
model-derived present-day soluble ON and OP deposition to the global
ocean is estimated to be ˜16 Tg-N/yr and ˜0.35 Tg-P/yr
respectively with an order of magnitude uncertainty. Of these amounts
˜40% and ˜6%, respectively, are associated with
anthropogenic activities, and 33% and 90% are recycled oceanic
materials. Therefore, anthropogenic emissions are having a greater
impact on the ON cycle than the OP cycle; consequently increasing
emissions may increase P-limitation in the oligotrophic regions of the
world's ocean that rely on atmospheric deposition as an important
nutrient source.

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