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, 51 (11), 6044-6052

Widespread Anthropogenic Nitrogen in Northwestern Pacific Ocean Sediment

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Widespread Anthropogenic Nitrogen in Northwestern Pacific Ocean Sediment

Haryun Kim et al. Environ Sci Technol.

Abstract

Sediment samples from the East China and Yellow seas collected adjacent to continental China were found to have lower δ15N values (expressed as δ15N = [15N:14Nsample/15N:14Nair - 1] × 1000‰; the sediment 15N:14N ratio relative to the air nitrogen 15N:14N ratio). In contrast, the Arctic sediments from the Chukchi Sea, the sampling region furthest from China, showed higher δ15N values (2-3‰ higher than those representing the East China and the Yellow sea sediments). Across the sites sampled, the levels of sediment δ15N increased with increasing distance from China, which is broadly consistent with the decreasing influence of anthropogenic nitrogen (NANTH) resulting from fossil fuel combustion and fertilizer use. We concluded that, of several processes, the input of NANTH appears to be emerging as a new driver of change in the sediment δ15N value in marginal seas adjacent to China. The present results indicate that the effect of NANTH has extended beyond the ocean water column into the deep sedimentary environment, presumably via biological assimilation of NANTH followed by deposition. Further, the findings indicate that NANTH is taking over from the conventional paradigm of nitrate flux from nitrate-rich deep water as the primary driver of biological export production in this region of the Pacific Ocean.

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