Nitrogen in the Atlantic Ocean

Dennis A. Hansell, Michael J. Follows

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

17 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on the factors regulating the nitrogen cycle of the Atlantic Ocean, with special attention on the North Atlantic, where data are plentiful. It begins the discussion with a description of the distributions of the major forms of nitrogen (N). A map of the Atlantic depicting locations of data collection for ocean sections and time series are discussed. It then considers the processes that regulate the nitrogen budget in the region, including physical transports, N2 fixation, atmospheric deposition, and denitrification. The Atlantic is fed by the northward flow of upper ocean waters that are depleted in nitrate and phosphate, while North Atlantic deep waters, formed in the northern high latitudes, move southward through the basin gathering remineralized nutrients. The meridional distribution of nitrate in the Atlantic generally follows the major water masses, with a clear and dominant signature of North Atlantic Deep Water formed from northern high latitude, nutrient depleted waters. Nitrate-rich signatures of Antarctic Bottom Water and Antarctic Intermediate Water extend northward, reflecting the high surface concentrations of nitrates where these water masses are formed. Additionally, the North Atlantic is unique among ocean basins with a nitrate:phosphate ratio (N:P) in thermocline waters in excess of the requirements of ''average'' Redfieldian organisms, a situation commonly interpreted as a signature of N input by nitrogen fixation. © 2008

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNitrogen in the Marine Environment
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9780123725226
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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