The influence of ocean acidification on nitrogen regeneration and nitrous oxide production in the North-West European shelf sea

The assimilation and regeneration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, and the concentration of N2O, was investigated at stations located in the NW European shelf sea during June/July 2011. These observational measurements within the photic zone demonstrated the simultaneous regeneration and assimilation of NH4+, NO2 and NO3. NH4+ was assimilated at 1.82–49.12 nmol N L−1 h−1 and regenerated at 3.46–14.60 nmol N L−1 h−1; NO2 was assimilated at 0–2.08 nmol N L−1 h−1 and regenerated at 0.01–1.85 nmol N L−1 h−1; NO3 was assimilated at 0.67–18.75 nmol N L−1 h−1 and regenerated at 0.05–28.97 nmol N L−1 h−1. Observations implied that these processes were closely coupled at the regional scale and nitrogen recycling played an important role in sustaining phytoplankton growth during the summer. The [N2O], measured in water column profiles, was 10.13 ± 1.11 nmol L−1 and did not strongly diverge from atmospheric equilibrium indicating that sampled marine regions where neither a strong source nor sink of N2O to the atmosphere. Multivariate analysis of data describing water column biogeochemistry and its links to N-cycling activity failed to explain the observed variance in rates of N-regeneration and N-assimilation, possibly due to the limited number of process rate observations. In the surface waters of 5 further stations, Ocean Acidification (OA) bioassay experiments were conducted to investigate the response of NH4+ oxidising and regenerating organisms to simulated OA conditions, including the implications for [N2O]. Multivariate analysis was undertaken which considered the complete bioassay dataset of measured variables describing changes in N-regeneration rate, [N2O] and the biogeochemical composition of seawater. While anticipating biogeochemical differences between locations, we aimed to test the hypothesis that the underlying mechanism through which pelagic N-regeneration responded to simulated OA conditions was independent of location and that a mechanistic understanding of how NH4+ oxidation, NH4+ regeneration and N2O production responded to OA could be developed. Results indicated that N-regeneration process responses to OA treatments were location specific; no mechanistic understanding of how N-regeneration processes respond to OA in the surface ocean of the NW European shelf sea could be developed.

Clark D. R., Brown I. J., Rees A. P., Somerfield P. J. & Miller P. I., 2014. The influence of ocean acidification on nitrogen regeneration and nitrous oxide production in the North-West European shelf sea. Biogeosciences Discussions 11:3113-3165. Article.


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