N-loss isotope effects in the Peru oxygen minimum zone studied using a mesoscale eddy as a natural tracer experiment.

Bourbonnais, Annie, Altabet, Mark A., Charoenpong, Chawalit N., Larkum, Jennifer, Hu, Haibei, Bange, Hermann W. and Stramma, Lothar (2015) N-loss isotope effects in the Peru oxygen minimum zone studied using a mesoscale eddy as a natural tracer experiment. Open Access Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29 . pp. 793-811. DOI 10.1002/2014GB005001.

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Mesoscale eddies in Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZ's) have been identified as important fixed nitrogen (N) loss hotspots that may significantly impact both the global rate of N-loss as well as the ocean's N isotope budget. They also represent ‘natural tracer experiments’ with intensified biogeochemical signals that can be exploited to understand the large-scale processes that control N-loss and associated isotope effects (ε; the ‰ deviation from 1 in the ratio of reaction rate constants for the light versus the heavy isotopologues). We observed large ranges in the concentrations and N and O isotopic compositions of nitrate (NO3−), nitrite (NO2−) and biogenic N2 associated with an anticyclonic eddy in the Peru OMZ during two cruises in November and December 2012. In the eddy's center where NO3− was nearly exhausted, we measured the highest δ15N values for both NO3− and NO2− (up to ~70‰ and 50‰) ever reported for an OMZ. Correspondingly, N deficit and biogenic N2-N concentrations were also the highest near the eddy's center (up to ~40 µmol L−1). δ15N-N2 also varied with biogenic N2 production, following kinetic isotopic fractionation during NO2− reduction to N2 and, for the first time, provided an independent assessment of N isotope fractionation during OMZ N-loss. We found apparent variable ε for NO3− reduction (up to ~30‰ in the presence of NO2−). However, the overall ε for N-loss was calculated to be only ~13-14‰ (as compared to canonical values of ~20-30‰) assuming a closed system and only slightly higher assuming an open system (16-19‰). Our results were similar whether calculated from the disappearance of DIN (NO3− + NO2−) or from the appearance of N2 and changes in isotopic composition. Further, we calculated the separate ε for NO3− reduction to NO2− and NO2− reduction to N2 of ~16-21‰ and ~12‰, respectively, when the effect of NO2− oxidation could be removed. These results, together with the relationship between N and O of NO3− isotopes and the difference in δ15N between NO3− and NO2-, confirm a role for NO2− oxidation in increasing the apparent ε associated with NO3− reduction. The lower ε for NO3− and NO2− reduction as well as N-loss calculated in this study could help reconcile the current imbalance in the global N budget if they are representative of OMZ N-loss.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: mesoscale eddy;isotope effects;N-loss
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 754 > B4
OceanRep > SFB 754
OceanRep > SFB 754 > A5
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: AGU (American Geophysical Union), Wiley
Projects: SOPRAN, SFB754, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 28 May 2015 12:00
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 18:36
URI: https://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/28872

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