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Trace elements and nutrients in wildfire plumes to the southeast of Australia


Perron, MMG and Meyerink, S and Corkill, M and Strzelec, M and Proemse, BC and Gault-Ringold, M and Sanz Rodriguez, E and Chase, Z and Bowie, AR, Trace elements and nutrients in wildfire plumes to the southeast of Australia, Atmospheric Research, 270 Article 106084. ISSN 0169-8095 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2022.106084


The unprecedented magnitude of the 201920 Australian fires have raised interest in the potential for fire emissions to supply vital nutrients to remote ocean regions. Fire emissions are episodic and unpredictable, making them difficult to investigate. Here we present results from continuous monitoring of the atmospheric composition at the kunanyi/Mount Wellington time-series station, in southeastern Tasmania (Australia) between 2016 and 2020. Characterization of aerosols at the station revealed a striking increase in the atmospheric loading of iron (Fe), nitrate (NO3), ammonium (NH4+) and manganese (Mn) associated with fire events. High concentrations of mineral dust in fire-impacted aerosols evidenced that strong pyro-convective winds resulted in the erosion and entrainment of soil particles into the atmosphere alongside the fire plume. Enrichment factor (EF) analysis in aerosols suggested that soil dominated the atmospheric loading of Fe and Mn in fire emissions. Lead (Pb) enrichment in fire aerosols (EFPb>10) was attributed to the resuspension of soil historically contaminated by leaded petrol and mining operations. Finally, atmospheric transport was showed to play a key role in decreasing concentrations of total Fe (TFe) and mineral dust while increasing the aeolian content of bioaccessible Fe (LFe), NO3 and NH4+ in the plume downwind of the fires. As future projections suggest an increase in fire activity worldwide, atmospheric time-series stations such as kunanyi/Mount Wellington are key to better understand future impacts of fire emissions on human health and natural ecosystems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:trace elements, nutrients, wildfires, Australia, fire emissions, bioaccessible iron, nitrate, ammonium, Southern Hemisphere, levoglucosan
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Chemical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Measurement and assessment of marine water quality and condition
UTAS Author:Perron, MMG (Miss Morgane Perron)
UTAS Author:Meyerink, S (Dr Scott Meyerink)
UTAS Author:Corkill, M (Mr Matthew Corkill)
UTAS Author:Strzelec, M (Mr Michal Strzelec)
UTAS Author:Proemse, BC (Dr Bernadette Proemse)
UTAS Author:Gault-Ringold, M (Dr Melanie East)
UTAS Author:Sanz Rodriguez, E (Dr Estrella Sanz Rodriguez)
UTAS Author:Chase, Z (Professor Zanna Chase)
UTAS Author:Bowie, AR (Professor Andrew Bowie)
ID Code:150200
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT130100037)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-06-01
Last Modified:2022-11-02

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