Abundance, distribution and deposition of PM2.5-bound iron in northern China during 2021 dust and dust storm periods

Dongsheng Ji, Yu Liu, Xiaojuan Xu, Jun He, Nuohang Liu, Baozhu Ge, Yuesi Wang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Dust storms have the ability to transport and deposit contaminants and nutrients, such as iron (Fe), to downwind regions through atmospheric processes. However, there is a lack of reported data on the high-resolution variations and deposition of particulate iron in multiple locations during dust storms. This study aimed to address this gap by employing standardized analytical methods to measure the concentrations of PM10, PM2.5, and PM2.5-associated Fe in Taiyuan, Beijing, Tianjin, Ji'nan, and the Bohai Bay of China during the dusty events of 2021. A total of 13 blowing sand or dust storms were recorded, with average PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations of 262 ± 322 and 85 ± 652, 171 ± 403 and 53 ± 448, 153 ± 211 and 57 ± 315, and 207 ± 249 and 63 ± 301 μg/m3 at the above-mentioned sites, respectively. These elevated concentrations were attributed to stronger winds in northern China and severe wind erosion in the sand source areas. During these events, the average concentrations of PM2.5-bound Fe reached 2730.2 ± 4587.9, 2030.2 ± 3877.9, 1342.1 ± 2251.4, and 1785.1 ± 2536.6 ng/m3 in Taiyuan, Beijing, Tianjin, and Ji'nan, respectively, with the highest concentrations recorded as 48.8, 48.0, 29.2, and 22.7 μg/m3. A significant positive correlation was observed between Fe and Si in PM2.5 in the four cities, with higher Fe/Si slopes recorded in or near the source regions, while the homogenized Fe/Si values were observed after long-distance transport. The mean dry deposition fluxes (FFe) of PM2.5-bound Fe were calculated as 0.34 ± 0.64, 0.31 ± 0.91, 0.21 ± 0.56, and 0.17 ± 0.28 mg/m2/d for Taiyuan, Beijing, Tianjin, and Ji'nan, respectively, based on both hourly observation data and model-based calculations of dry deposition velocities. It is worth noting that FFe decreased from west to east in China, consistent with a previous study that showed a decrease in dust deposition rates with increasing transport distances. Peaks in FFe corresponded to the highest concentrations of PM2.5-associated Fe, indicating that these concentrations played a significant role in Fe. Furthermore, the atmospheric deposition of dissolved Fe from blowing sand or dust storm events was found to contribute to carbon fixation in the Bohai region of China, providing a range of 7.8 × 104–3.9 × 106 mol. This research provides valuable insights into the quantitative relationship between atmospheric deposition and marine productivity during dust events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120249
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Dry deposition
  • Dust storm
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Northern China
  • PM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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