Overlooked runaway feedback in the marine nitrogen cycle: the vicious cycle.

Landolfi, Angela , Dietze, Heiner , Koeve, Wolfgang and Oschlies, Andreas (2013) Overlooked runaway feedback in the marine nitrogen cycle: the vicious cycle. Open Access Biogeosciences (BG), 10 . pp. 1351-1363. DOI 10.5194/bg-10-1351-2013.

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The marine nitrogen (N) inventory is controlled by the interplay of nitrogen loss processes, here referred to as denitrification, and nitrogen source processes, primarily nitrogen fixation. The apparent stability of the marine N inventory on time scales longer than the estimated N residence time, suggests some intimate balance between N sinks and sources. Such a balance may be perceived easier to achieve when N sinks and sources occur in close spatial proximity, and some studies have interpreted observational evidence for such a proximity as indication for a stabilizing feedback processes. Using a biogeochemical ocean circulation model, we here show instead that a close spatial association of N2 fixation and denitrification can, in fact, trigger destabilizing feedbacks on the N inventory and, because of stoichiometric constrains, lead to net N losses. Contrary to current notion, a balanced N inventory requires a regional separation of N sources and sinks. This can be brought about by factors that reduce the growth of diazotrophs, such as iron, or by factors that affect the fate of the fixed nitrogen remineralization, such as dissolved organic matter dynamics. In light of our findings we suggest that spatial arrangements of N sinks and sources have to be accounted for in addition to individual rate estimates for reconstructing past, evaluating present and predicting future marine N inventory imbalances.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000317010600009
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > SFB 754 > B1
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BM Biogeochemical Modeling
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.5194/bg-10-1351-2013
ISSN: 1726-4189
Projects: BIOACID, SFB754, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2012 13:36
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 22:27
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/19829

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