African dust once fertilized the Everglades

Humans aren’t only source of nutrients for Florida’s wetlands

3:36pm, October 7, 2013

BLOWING IN THE WIND  About 4,600 years ago, African dust wafted across the Atlantic (simulation shown) and into the Florida Everglades where it fertilized aquatic plants, researchers say. 

Numerous water lilies and other aquatic flowers once dotted the grass carpets of Florida’s Everglades thanks to nutrient-bearing dust from Africa.

Windblown sediment from the Sahara Desert landed in Florida around 4,600 years ago and enriched its nutrient-poor wetlands, scientists report October 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But an abrupt shift in winds around 2,800 years ago downsized the dust dump and stifled the nutrient flow, the authors suggest.

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