Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2004. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Paleoceanography 19 (2004): PA4007, doi:10.1029/2003PA001000.
An analysis of sedimentary nitrogen isotope records compiled from widely distributed marine environments emphasizes the global synchrony of denitrification changes and provides evidence for a strong temporal coupling of these variations to changes in nitrogen fixation as previously inferred. We explain the global coherence of these records by a simple physical control on the flux of dissolved oxygen to suboxic zones and the coupling to fixation via the supply of phosphorus to diazotrophs in suitable environments. According to our hypothesis, lower glacial-stage sea surface temperature increased oxygen solubility, while stronger winds in high-latitude regions enhanced the rate of thermocline ventilation. The resultant colder, rapidly flushed thermocline lessened the spatial extent of denitrification and, consequently, N fixation. During warm periods, sluggish circulation of warmer, less oxygen rich thermocline waters caused expansion of denitrification zones and a concomitant increase in N fixation. Local fluctuations in export productivity would have modulated this global signal.
support for this work was provided by the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council of Canada and by a WHOI postdoctoral
fellowship to MK.
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