Dust Storms and Its Benefits to the Marine Life of the Arabian Gulf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


As a major source of atmospheric dust, the Arabian Peninsula contributes significantly to the nutrients supply for the marine ecosystem of the Arabian Gulf. It does this via dust deposited across the Gulf basin, mainly during the frequent local dust storm events. In addition to dust deposition, it appears that the Gulf ecosystem receives additional nutrients, especially Fe, P, and N, from other sources, such as upwelling of deep waters and recycling of old nutrients as well as through the discharge of sewage and salts from desalination plants. With an estimate of total average dust flux of 6.385 gm m-2 day-1, for an average of 33 days per year, it is expected that the entire Gulf area (240,000 km2) receives roughly 5.5 x 106 tons of dust per year, assuming 10% uniform deposition. The release of nutrients from the dust, e.g., by dissolution, within the marine ecosystem, depends on several factors, beginning with atmospheric photochemical reactions, acid rain dissolution, and microbial mineralization and recycling. Although dust storms contribute positively to the richness and diversity of living marine organisms in the Arabian Gulf, they also have a negative side. The dust may transport and release undesirable toxic metals that potentially inhibit algal growth and cause human respiratory diseases via inhalation of PM10 and PM2.5 particles. The dust also negatively affects agriculture and exacerbates desertification. It promotes the appearance of harmful algae blooms (HAB) that are responsible for massive fish kills and interruptions to the operations of desalination plants. Further studies on nutrients recycling, assimilation, and its pathways through the different trophic levels of the Gulf ecosystem are necessary to understand and quantify the net contribution of dust storms to the nutrient balance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Arabian Seas
Subtitle of host publicationBiodiversity, Environmental Challenges and Conservation Measures
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030515065
ISBN (Print)9783030515058
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2021


  • Arabian Gulf
  • Dust deposition
  • Ecosystem responses
  • Nutrients recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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