Importance of salt fingering for new nitrogen supply in the oligotrophic ocean.
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AuthorsFernández-Castro, B. (Bieito); Mouriño-Carballido, B. (Beatriz); Marañón, E.; Chouciño, P.; Gago, J. (Jesús); Ramírez-Cárdenas, T. (Teodoro); Vidal, M.; Bode, A. (Antonio); Blasco, D.; Royer, S.-J.; Estrada, M.; Simó, R.
The input of new nitrogen into the euphotic zone constrains the export of organic carbon to the deep ocean and thereby the biologically mediated long-term CO2 exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. In low-latitude open-ocean regions, turbulence-driven nitrate diffusion from the ocean’s interior and biological fixation of atmospheric N2 are the main sources of new nitrogen for phytoplankton productivity. With measurements across the tropical and subtropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, we show that nitrate diffusion (171±190 mmolm 2 d 1) dominates over N2 fixation (9.0±9.4 mmolm 2 d 1) at the time of sampling. Nitrate diffusion mediated by salt fingers is responsible for ca. 20% of the new nitrogen supply in several provinces of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Our results indicate that salt finger diffusion should be considered in present and future ocean nitrogen budgets, as it could supply globally 0.23–1.00 TmolNyr 1 to the euphotic zone.
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