From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
Australian Dust Storms Feed Life Explosion
Dani Cooper, ABC Science Online
Oct. 7, 2009 — The red dust storm that dumped thousands of tons of soil across eastern Australia two weeks ago has caused an explosion in microscopic life in Sydney Harbor and beyond. …
An estimated 4000 tons of dust settled on Sydney, while Jones and his colleagues calculate about three million tons landed in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.
Measurements taken at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science on the harbor’s north shore show a tripling of microscopic plant life, or phytoplankton, at the Chowder Bay site and in samples taken 10 kilometers off shore.
The scientists measure the presence of phytoplankton using remote sensing technology that can detect chlorophyll in the plants, which form the base of the ocean food chain.
Dust storms from the Sahara desert play a similar role in the Atlantic ocean around the Cape Verde islands. Here, Charles Darwin, sailing past on the Beagle, did research on the dust. This was repeated recently, with more sophisticated instruments, during the Dutch TV “remake” of the Beagle’s journey.
Glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are enriching stream and near shore marine ecosystems from a surprising source – ancient carbon contained in glacial runoff, researchers from four universities and the U.S. Forest Service report in the December 24, 2009, issue of the journal Nature: here.
New study reveals decline of marine phytoplankton over the past century: here.