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Aerosols and their fertilisation effects

Researchers have used atmospheric modelling to study how aerosols can behave as fertilisers and predict their effect on Earth’s biomass.
Aerosols and their fertilisation effects
Atmospheric aerosols play an important role in the energy balance of the Earth system, yet not all their interactions have been fully studied. This includes the effect of aerosol fertilisation on the terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

The EU-funded FABIO (Fertilization effect of aerosols on Earth biomass) initiative worked to measure the effect of atmospheric ammonium aerosol and iron-rich dust particles on natural terrestrial and oceanic productivity. The researchers aimed to use a global chemistry-aerosol model that includes the carbon cycle in the terrestrial and marine reservoirs.

FABIO studied the abundance of phosphorus and iron in the atmosphere and their influence on the productivity of the ocean. The researchers analysed the amounts and effects of anthropogenic aerosol deposition and its effect on carbon fluxes.

The team then simulated the response of oceanic productivity to the deposition of aerosols under varying climate from 1850 to 2010. They estimated the global atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and phosphorus from 1850 to 2100 by modelling atmospheric chemistry.

FABIO found aerosols deposited by human activity reduced the sensitivity of oceanic productivity to warming by 10 % in the global stratified oceans during the period 1948-2007. The researchers showed that reduced aerosol emissions under higher air quality standards in the future might accelerate the decline of oceanic productivity.

These results will improve Earth system modelling and increase European competitiveness in climate change studies. This research can lead to potential breakthroughs in our understanding of the influence of nitrogen and iron on climate change and carbon storage.

Related information


Life Sciences


Aerosols, fertilisation effects, biomass, FABIO, oceanic productivity, phosphorus, iron
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