Response of N2O production rate to ocean acidification in the western North Pacific

Ocean acidification, induced by the increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions, has a profound impact on marine organisms and biogeochemical processes. The response of marine microbial activities to ocean acidification might play a crucial role in the future evolution of air–sea fluxes of biogenic gases such as nitrous oxide (N2O), a strong GHG and the dominant stratospheric ozone-depleting substance. Here, we examine the response of N2O production from nitrification to acidification in a series of incubation experiments conducted in subtropical and subarctic western North Pacific. The experiments show that when pH was reduced, the N2O production rate during nitrification measured at subarctic stations increased significantly while nitrification rates remained stable or decreased. Contrary to previous findings, these results suggest that the effect of ocean acidification on N2O production during nitrification and nitrification rates are probably uncoupled. Collectively, these results suggest that if seawater pH continues to decline at the same rate, ocean acidification could increase marine N2O production during nitrification in the subarctic North Pacific by 185 to 491% by the end of the century.

Breider F., Yoshikawa C., Makabe A., Toyoda S., Wakita M., Matsui Y., Kawagucci S., Fujiki T., Harada N. & Yoshida N., in press. Response of N2O production rate to ocean acidification in the western North Pacific. Nature Climate Change. Article (subscription required).

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