Assistant Professor of Geology Bess Koffman and students Meg Yoder ’19, Taylor Methven ’20, Helen Sears ’20, and Lena Hanschka ’21 coauthored the paper “Glacial Dust Surpasses Both Volcanic Ash and Desert Dust in Its Iron Fertilization Potential” recently published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 

In the study, the authors demonstrate that glacially sourced dust from Alaska has greater potential to deliver iron and other nutrients to the ocean ecosystem than other sources of nutrients such as volcanoes and Asian desert dust. This finding is important because the northeastern Pacific ocean is “iron-limited,” meaning that biological growth is hampered by a lack of the nutrient iron. As glaciers recede with climate warming and catchments become forested, the supply and geochemistry of glacier-derived dust to the ocean are likely to change, impacting the ocean ecosystem.