Systematic changes in circumpolar dust transport to the Subantarctic Pacific Ocean over the last two glacial cycles

Torben Struve*, Jack Longman, Martin Zander, Frank Lamy, Gisela Winckler, Katharina Pahnke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The input of the soluble micronutrients iron (Fe) and/or manganese (Mn) by mineral dust stimulates net primary productivity in the Fe/Mn-deficient Southern Ocean. This mechanism is thought to increase carbon export, thus reducing atmospheric CO2 during the Pleistocene glacial cycles. Yet, relatively little is known about changes in the sources and transport pathways of Southern Hemisphere dust over glacial cycles. Here, we use the geochemical fingerprint of the dust fraction in marine sediments and multiisotope mixture modeling to identify changes in dust transport to the South Pacific Subantarctic Zone (SAZ). Our data show that dust from South America dominated the South Pacific SAZ during most of the last 260,000 a with maximum contributions of up to ∼70% in the early part of the glacial cycles. The enhanced dust-Fe fluxes of the latter parts of the glacial cycles show increased contributions from Australia and New Zealand, but South American dust remains the dominant component. The systematic changes in dust provenance correspond with grain size variations, consistent with the circumpolar transport of dust by the westerly winds. Maximum contributions of dust from more proximal sources in Australia and New Zealand (up to ∼63%) paired with a finer dust grain size indicate reduced westerly wind speeds over the South Pacific SAZ during deglacial and peak interglacial intervals. These quantitative dust provenance changes provide source-specific dust-Fe fluxes in the South Pacific SAZ and show how their systematic changes in magnitude and timing influence the Southern Ocean dust-Fe feedback on glacial-interglacial to millennial time scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2206085119
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
Early online date21 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic changes in circumpolar dust transport to the Subantarctic Pacific Ocean over the last two glacial cycles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this