The North Atlantic Ocean as a source of atmospheric N2O

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Hahn, Jürgen (2011)

In 1969, 1970, and 1971 N2O measurements of sea water were carried out during 3 cruises in the open North Atlantic ocean. Water samples were taken from the sea's surface and from depths down to 3000 m at several stations. Surface water concentrations in the tropical-subtropical latitudes averaged 0.5 ?g N2O per liter sea water. For the range from 38.5° N to 48.5° N, an average of 0.4 ?g N2O per liter sea water was found. In the area of the Iceland—Faroe ridge, the surface water concentrations averaged 0.4 ?g N2O per liter' sea water when water temperatures were 10°C, and 0.5 ?g N2O per liter sea water when water temperatures were 5°C. The vertical N2O concentration profiles often show two maxima: a smaller one between 100 and 200 m and a large one between 400 and 1000 m with N2O concentrations up to 0.8 ?g per liter sea water. With the exception of a few samples, the measurements indicated that the North Atlantic sea water is supersaturated with N2O. Supersaturation values up to more than 100% were found in the upper layers of the sea water from the tropical-subtropical latitudes up to 48.5° N. Further north the N2O supersaturation of the sea water decreases. For the upper sea water layers down to 1000 m the following average values were obtained from vertical profiles: in tropical latitudes about 66% super-saturation, in subtropical latitudes about 47%, in the range from 38.5° N to 48.5° N about 42%, and in the area of the Iceland—Faroe ridge about 12–20% supersaturation. One may conclude that the North Atlantic ocean acts as a net source of atmospheric N2O. It is probable that the other oceans have the same ability.DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1974.tb01962.x
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