|Desert dust 'nutrients for marine life'|
|By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief
Al Ain: Dust blown in from the desert is an important source of nutrients for marine life in the UAE, reveals a scientific study.
"The contribution of atmospheric dust to marine productivity should not be neglected, especially with nutrient-depleted environments," said Dr Waleed Hamza, Chairman of Biology Department at the Faculty of Science of UAE University, who conducted the research.
The scientist highlighted the need for further studies to explore the composition and chemistry of the dust (called Sahara) and its leaching properties in the marine environment.
His focus was on finding the nutritive contribution of Sahara dust to marine productivity through laboratory experiments.
The Research Affairs Sector of UAE University has published the report.
He said the study was aimed at initiating research on the composition of wind-blown dust from the UAE and its effects on marine life.
"The study was designed to link data on atmospheric deposition, dust mineral and chemical composition, and nutritive effect of the dust on a monoclonal algal culture," he added.
Dr Hamza said over the last two decades many studies have been done on the desert, but recently attention has been drawn to its possible role in enhancing oceanic productivity.
Most previous studies were focused on specific regions, such as the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea areas.
The UAE lies in the arid tropical zone extending across Asia and North Africa and its climatic conditions are strongly influenced by the Indian Ocean.
Prevailing winds are influenced by the monsoons, varying between south or southeast, to west or north to north-west, depending upon the season and location.
Fujairah is uniquely positioned in the UAE for being the only emirate on the eastern side of the country bordering the Gulf of Oman.
"Despite the isolated location of Fujairah and the lack of significant industrial effects on its environment, there is a potential in this small emirate for pollution by wind-blown dust.
"The scientist had collected the desert dust from Fujairah and conducted laboratory experiments on it."
"The results indicate that atmospheric dust is an important source of bio-available nutrients to the upper water column, particularly during large sporadic dust depositing events," he said.