Nitrite regeneration in the oligotrophic Atlantic Ocean

Clark, DR, Rees, AP, Ferrera, CM, Al-Moosawi, L, Somerfield, PJ, Harris, C, Quartly, GD, Goult, S, Tarran, GA and Lessin, G 2022 Nitrite regeneration in the oligotrophic Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences, 19 (5). 1355-1376.

Clark et al 2022.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (2MB) | Preview
Official URL:


The recycling of scarce nutrient resources in the sunlit open ocean is crucial to ecosystem function. Nitrification directs ammonium (NH+4) derived from organic matter decomposition towards the regeneration of nitrate (NO− 3), an important resource for photosynthetic primary producers. However, the technical challenge of making nitrification rate measurements in oligotrophic conditions combined with the remote nature of these environments means that data availability, and the understanding that provides, is limited. This study reports nitrite (NO−2) regeneration rate (RNO2– the first product of nitrification derived from NH+ 4 oxidation)over a 13 000 km transect within the photic zone of the Atlantic Ocean. These measurements, at relatively high resolution (order 300 km), permit the examination of interactions between RNO2 and environmental conditions that may warrant explicit development in model descriptions. At all locations we report measurable RNO2 with significant variability between and within Atlantic provinces. Statistical analysis indicated significant correlative structure between RNO2 and ecosystem variables, explaining ∼ 65 % of the data variability. Differences between sampling depths were of the same magnitude as or greater than horizontally resolved differences, identifying distinct biogeochemical niches between depth horizons. The best overall match between RNO2 and environmental variables combined chlorophyll-a concentration, light-phase duration, and silicate concentration (representing a short-term tracer of water column physical instability). On this basis we hypothesize that RNO2 is related to the short-term autotrophic production and heterotrophic decomposition of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), which regenerates NH+4 and supports NH+4 oxidation. However, this did not explain the observation that RNO2 in the deep euphotic zone was significantly greater in the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere. We present the complimentary hypothesis that observations reflect the difference in DON concentration supplied by lateral transport into the gyre interior from the Atlantic’s eastern boundary upwelling ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > Atlantic Meridional Transect
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > Single Centre NC - CLASS
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Earth Observation Science and Applications
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Biochemistry and Observations
Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine System Modelling
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 09 Mar 2022 11:02
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2022 11:02

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item