Temporal variability of fluxes of eolian-transported freshwater diatoms, phytoliths, and pollen grains off Cape Blanc as reflection of land-atmosphere-ocean interactions in northwest Africa

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Abstract

[1] Fluxes of airborne freshwater diatoms (FD), phytoliths (PH), and pollen grains (PO) collected with sediment traps off Cape Blanc, northwest Africa, from 1988 till 1991 are presented. Both continental rainfall variations and wind mean strength and direction play a key role in the temporal fluctuations of the fluxes of eolian traces in the pelagic realm. Drier conditions in Northern Africa in 1987 could have preceded the high lithogenic input and moderate FD flux in 1988. The PH peak in summer 1988 was probably caused by increased wind velocity. Wetter rainy seasons of 1988/89 might have promoted a significant pollen production in summer 1989, and FD in late 1989 and early 1990, as well as contributed to the reduction of the lithogenic flux in 1989/90. Decreased fluxes of FD, PH and PO, and higher contribution of the 6–11 μm lithogenic fraction in 1991 would mainly reflect minor intensity and decreased amount of continental trade winds. Air-mass backward trajectories confirm that the Saharan Air Layer is predominantly involved in the spring/summer transport. Trade winds play a decisive role in the fall/winter months, but also contribute to the transport during late spring/summer. Origin of wind trajectories does not support a direct relationship between transporting wind-layers and material source areas in Northern Africa. High winter fluxes of eolian tracers and high amount of trade winds with continental origin in summer warn against a simplistic interpretation of the seasonal eolian signal preserved in the sediments off Cape Blanc, and the wind layer involved in its transport.

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