How Nitrogen Is Lost

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Science  26 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6144, pp. 352-353
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240314

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As in the back garden, productivity in the ocean is often limited by the availability of nutrients, principally nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). On a global scale, the rates of nitrogen fixation (input) and nitrogen loss (output) are believed to be roughly equal. Both rates are, however, very uncertain. Nitrogen loss processes occur in subsurface water and sediments and depend on the supply of organic matter, derived from primary production in surface waters. Reports in the last few years have changed our understanding of the controls and pathways responsible for nitrogen loss.