Atmospheric dust deposition is likely to change the Earth’s climate and atmospheric CO2 through fertilising phytoplankton in the ocean (nutrient source) and by accelerating the biological carbon pump (ballasting effect). DUSTCO aims to expand the scope of this line of research by addressing the impact of Saharan dust deposition on the biogeochemically important coccolithophores thriving across the tropical North Atlantic.
DUSTCO is a multidisciplinary project that will expand existing knowledge of coccolithophores in tropical and subtropical environments, and contribute ecological and oceanographic insights to the highly interdisciplinary and dynamically evolving area of dust research.
Coccolithophores (Haptophyta) are amongst the most important groups of phytoplankton in the oligotrophic regions of the global ocean. By also including opportunistic taxa that quickly respond to short-term changes linked to nutrient input, and by being both photosynthetic and calcifying, coccolithophores provide interesting perspectives as indicators of ocean fertilization by dust, and its contribution to the organic and inorganic oceanic carbon pumps.