Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 27 Issue 01

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Volume 27, No. 1
Pages 66 - 68

A Dusty Planet

Robert A. Duce
First Paragraph

We live on a dusty planet—and the mineral matter that we commonly call “dust” is critical in many components of our Earth system, including several marine biogeochemical cycles and climate. The long-range atmospheric transport of dust has been known for centuries. The first mention of dust storms was in the ancient Chinese literature, referring to “dust rain,” “dust fog,” or “yellow fog,” which usually occurred in the spring. The earliest known record of “dust rain” appears in 1150 BCE in the historical book Zhu Shu Ji Nan or Chronicles Reported on Bamboo Slips. Recent interest in dust in the marine environment focuses on associated iron content, which serves as a critical nutrient for marine primary productivity and nitrogen fixation in many ocean regions (see Grand et al., 2014, in this issue).


Duce, R.A. 2014. A dusty planet. Oceanography 27(1):66–68, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.09.


Darwin, C. 1846. An account of the fine dust which often falls on vessels in the Atlantic Ocean. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 2:26–30, https://doi.org/10.1144/GSL.JGS.1846.002.01-02.09.

Duce, R.A., P.S. Liss, J.T. Merrill, E.L. Atlas, P. Buat-Menard, B.B. Hicks, J.M. Miller, J.M. Prospero, R. Arimoto, T.M. Church, and others. 1991. The atmospheric input of trace species to the world ocean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 5:193–259, https://doi.org/10.1029/91GB01778.

Grand, M.M., C.S. Buck, W.M. Landing, C.I. Measures, M. Hatta, W.T. Hiscock, M. Brown, and J.A. Resing. 2014. Quantifying the impact of atmospheric deposition on the biogeochemistry of Fe and Al in the upper ocean: A decade of collaboration with the US CLIVAR-CO2 Repeat Hydrography Program. Oceanography 27(1):62–65, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.08.

Jickells, T.S., Z.S. An, K.K. Andersen, A.R. Baker, G. Bergametti, N. Brooks, J.J. Cao, P.W. Boyd, R.A. Duce, K.A. Hunter, and others. 2005. Global iron connections between desert dust, ocean biogeochemistry, and climate. Science 308:67–71, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1105959.