Atmospheric nitrogen inputs into the North Sea: Effect on productivity

Gerrit de Leeuw, Lucinda Spokes, Tim Jickells, Carsten Ambelas Skjoth, Ole Hertel, Elisabetta Vignati, Susanne Tamm, Michael Schulz, Lise-Lotte Sørensen, Britta Pedersen, Laura Klein, K. Heinke Schlunzen

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The ANICE (Atmospheric Nitrogen Inputs into the Coastal Ecosystem) project addressed the atmospheric deposition of nitrogen to the North Sea, with emphasis on coastal effects. ANlCE focused on quantifying the deposition of inorganic nitrogen compounds to the North Sea and the governing processes. An overview of the results from modelling and experimental efforts is presented. They serve to identify the role of the atmosphere as a source of biologically essential chemical species to the marine biota. Data from the Weybourne Atmospheric Observatory (UK) are used to evaluate the effect of short episodes with very high atmospheric nitrogen concentrations. One such episode resulted in an average deposition of 0.8 mmol N m-2 day-1, which has the potential to promote primary productivity of 5.3 mmol C m-2 day-1. This value is compared to long-term effects determined from model results. The total calculated atmospheric deposition to the North Sea in 1999 is 948 kg N km-1, i.e. 0.19 mmol N m-2 day -1 which has the potential to promote primary productivity of 1.2 mmol C m-2 day-1. Detailed results for August 1999 show strong gradients across the North Sea due to adjacent areas where emissions of NOx and NH3 are among the highest in Europe. The average atmospheric deposition to the southern part of the North Sea in August 1999 could potentially promote primary production of 2.0 mmol C m-2 day-1, i.e. ~ 5.5% of the total production at this time of the year in this area of the North Sea. For the entire study area the atmospheric contribution to the primary production per m2 is about two-third of this value. Most of the deposition occurs during short periods with high atmospheric concentrations. This atmospheric nitrogen is almost entirely anthropogenic in origin and thus represents a human-induced perturbation of the ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1743-1755
Number of pages13
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number17-19
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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