Review

Impacts of Atmospheric Anthropogenic Nitrogen on the Open Ocean

Science  16 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5878, pp. 893-897
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150369

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Abstract

Increasing quantities of atmospheric anthropogenic fixed nitrogen entering the open ocean could account for up to about a third of the ocean's external (nonrecycled) nitrogen supply and up to ∼3% of the annual new marine biological production, ∼0.3 petagram of carbon per year. This input could account for the production of up to ∼1.6 teragrams of nitrous oxide (N2O) per year. Although ∼10% of the ocean's drawdown of atmospheric anthropogenic carbon dioxide may result from this atmospheric nitrogen fertilization, leading to a decrease in radiative forcing, up to about two-thirds of this amount may be offset by the increase in N2O emissions. The effects of increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition are expected to continue to grow in the future.

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