Atmospheric dust is an important source of the micronutrient Fe to the oceans. Although relatively insoluble mineral Fe is assumed to be the most important component of dust, a relatively small yet highly soluble anthropogenic component may also be significant. However, quantifying the importance of anthropogenic Fe to the global oceans requires a tracer which can be used to identify and constrain anthropogenic aerosols in situ. Here, we present Fe isotope (δ56Fe) data from North Atlantic aerosol samples from the GEOTRACES GA03 section. While soluble aerosol samples collected near the Sahara have near-crustal δ56Fe, soluble aerosols from near North America and Europe instead have remarkably fractionated δ56Fe values (as light as −1.6‰). Here, we use these observations to fingerprint anthropogenic combustion sources, and to refine aerosol deposition modeling. We show that soluble anthropogenic aerosol Fe flux to the global surface oceans is highly likely to be underestimated, even in the dusty North Atlantic.
As climate trends accelerate, ecosystems will be pushed rapidly into new states, reducing the potential efficacy of conservation strategies based on historical patterns. In the Gulf of Maine, climate-driven changes have restructured the ecosystem rapidly over the past decade. Changes in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation have altered deepwater dynamics, driving warming rates twice as high as the fastest surface rates. This has had implications for the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, a critical food supply for the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The oceanographic changes have driven a deviation in the seasonal foraging patterns of E. glacialis upon which conservation strategies depend, making the whales more vulnerable to ship strikes and gear entanglements. The effects of rapid climate-driven changes on a species at risk undermine current management approaches.