(From ScienceDaily)– In the new study, marine chemists and biologists from The University of Texas at Austin discovered that seabed microbes remove substantial quantities of nitrogen from the Arctic Ocean. Although the Arctic accounts for only a little more than 1 percent of the world’s continental shelves (where most nitrogen is removed), this region accounts for about 5 percent of the global ocean nitrogen removal, data researchers collected for the study show.
Scientists think that, in the past, the oceans maintained a reliable balance between nitrogen sources and nitrogen removal. This global nitrogen budget indicates that overall ocean nitrogen levels are higher now than ever before due to human activity, such as fertilizer run-off and sewage into the oceans. This perturbation throws the budget out of balance. All living things need nitrogen for survival, but excessive nitrogen can harm marine and terrestrial ecosystems. For example, excess nitrogen in the ocean can fuel growth of algae blooms, including toxic blooms that are harmful to marine life. Symptoms of nitrogen pollution include “dead zones,” fish kills, shellfish poisoning and loss of coastal habitats such as seagrass meadows and coral reefs. Natural bacteria in the ocean remove some of this extra nitrogen in the ocean by converting it to inert nitrogen gas in a process called “denitrification.”
Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161026104556.htm