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Keywords:

  • biotic ocean-atmosphere coupling;
  • biogeochemical process;
  • dust;
  • DMS

[1] Two hypotheses that postulate interactions between ocean biota and aerosols in the atmosphere have generated substantial research into marine systems. The stimulation of phytoplankton photosynthesis by the provision of iron, a micronutrient contained in deposited aeolian dust (the Iron Hypothesis), and the contribution of dimethylsulphide (DMS) produced by marine ecosystems to the atmospheric burden of aerosols (the CLAW Hypothesis) have been the focus of much research. Satellite sensors, such as the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) now provide moderate-resolution time series of measurements of the optical properties of the oceans and atmosphere over most of the Earth's surface. These data provide an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the ubiquity of biotic linkages between the ocean and atmosphere at the global scale. We analyzed 5 years of SeaWiFS 8-day fields of two variables, chlorophyll concentration and aerosol optical depth, for the global oceans. This first global, multiyear approach does not yet allow unequivocal conclusions, as satellite measurements of chlorophyll can be influenced by aerosol properties of the atmosphere and several variables we do not yet examine are likely to play a role. We find correlation between optical properties of the ocean and atmosphere over much of the globe, in particular the midlatitudes. While some regional analyses indicate that SeaWiFS chlorophyll retrievals are biased by dust in the atmosphere, our results do not support the existence of widespread bias in the SeaWiFS products, but are consistent with global-scale couplings posited by the Iron and CLAW hypotheses.