Nitrogen isotope simulations show the importance of atmospheric iron deposition for nitrogen fixation across the Pacific Ocean.

Somes, Christopher J. , Schmittner, Andreas and Altabet, Mark A. (2010) Nitrogen isotope simulations show the importance of atmospheric iron deposition for nitrogen fixation across the Pacific Ocean. Open Access Geophysical Research Letters, 37 (23). L23605. DOI 10.1029/2010GL044537.

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Abstract

Nitrogen (N) fixation by specialized microorganisms (diazotrophs) influences global plankton productivity because it provides the ocean with most of its bio-available N. However, its global rate and large-scale spatial distribution is still regarded with considerable uncertainty. Here we use a global ocean nitrogen isotope model, in comparison with δ15NO3− observations, to constrain the pattern of N2 fixation across the Pacific Ocean. N2 fixation introduces isotopically light atmospheric N2 from to the ocean (δ15N = 0‰) relative to the oceanic average near 5‰, which makes nitrogen isotopes suitable to infer patterns of N2 fixation. Including atmospheric iron limitation of diazotrophy in the model shifts the pattern of simulated N2 fixation from the South Pacific to the North Pacific and from the East Pacific westward. These changes considerably improve the agreement with meridional transects of available δ15NO3− observations, as well as excess P (PO43− − NO3−/16), suggesting that atmospheric iron deposition is indeed important for N fixation in the Pacific Ocean. This study highlights the potential for using δ15N observations and model simulations to constrain patterns and rates of N fixation in the ocean.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Biogeochemistry, nitrogen, Pacific Ocean
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BM Biogeochemical Modeling
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1029/2010GL044537
ISSN: 0094-8276
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2010 14:18
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2017 13:14
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/10383

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