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Nitrogen fixation in the eastern Atlantic reaches similar levels in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere
Fonseca Batista, D.; Dehairs, F.; Riou, V.; Fripiat, F.; Elskens, M.; Deman, F.; Brion, N.; Quéroué, F.; Bode, M.; Auel, H. (2017). Nitrogen fixation in the eastern Atlantic reaches similar levels in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. JGR: Oceans 122(1): 587-601.
In: Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION: Washington. ISSN 2169-9275; e-ISSN 2169-9291, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 332498 [ OMA ]

Author keywords
    nitrogen fixation; Atlantic Ocean; primary production

Authors  Top 
  • Quéroué, F.
  • Bode, M.
  • Auel, H., more

    Euphotic layer dinitrogen (N2) fixation and primary production (PP) were measured in the eastern Atlantic Ocean (38°N–21°S) using 15N2 and 13C bicarbonate tracer incubations. This region is influenced by Saharan dust deposition and waters with low nitrogen to phosphorus (N/P) ratios originating from the Subantarctic and the Benguela upwelling system. Depth-integrated rates of N2 fixation in the north (0°N–38°N) ranged from 59 to 370 µmol N m−2 d−1, with the maximal value at 19°N under the influence of the northwest African upwelling. Diazotrophic activity in the south (0°S–21°S), though slightly lower, was surprisingly close to observations in the north, with values ranging from 47 to 119 µmol N m−2 d−1. Our North Atlantic N2 fixation rates correlate well with dust deposition, while those in the South Atlantic correlate strongly with excess phosphate relative to nitrate. There, the necessary iron is assumed to be supplied from the Benguela upwelling system. When converting N2 fixation to carbon uptake using a Redfield ratio (6.6), we find that N2 fixation may support up to 9% of PP in the subtropical North Atlantic (20°N–38°N), 5% in the tropical North Atlantic (0°N–20°N), and 1% of PP in the South Atlantic (0°S–21°S). Combining our data with published data sets, we estimate an annual N input of 27.6 ± 10 Tg N yr−1 over the open Atlantic Ocean, 11% of which enters the region between 20°N and 50°N, 71% between 20°N and 10°S, and 18% between 10°N and 45°S.

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