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Enhanced benthic nitrous oxide and ammonium production after natural oxygenation of long-term anoxic sediments

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  • Astrid Hylén, University of Gothenburg
  • ,
  • Stefano Bonaglia, University of Gothenburg, Stockholm University, Syddansk Universitet
  • ,
  • Elizabeth Robertson, University of Gothenburg
  • ,
  • Ugo Marzocchi
  • Mikhail Kononets, University of Gothenburg
  • ,
  • Per O.J. Hall, University of Gothenburg

Coastal and shelf sediments are central in the global nitrogen (N) cycle as important sites for the removal of fixed N. However, this ecosystem service can be hampered by ongoing deoxygenation in many coastal areas. Natural reoxygenation could reinstate anoxic sediments as sites where fixed N is removed efficiently. To investigate this further, we studied benthic N cycling in previously long-term anoxic sediments, following a large intrusion of oxygenated water to the Baltic Sea. During three campaigns in 2016–2018, we measured in situ sediment–water fluxes of ammonium ((Formula presented.)), nitrate ((Formula presented.)), oxygen (O2), dissolved inorganic carbon, and (Formula presented.) reduction processes using benthic chamber landers. Sediment microprofiles of O2, nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrogen sulfide were measured in sediment cores. At a permanently oxic station, denitrification to N2 was the main (Formula presented.) reduction process. Benthic N2O production appeared to be linked to nitrification, although no net N2O fluxes from the sediment were detected. At newly oxygenated sites, dissimilatory (Formula presented.) reduction to (Formula presented.) comprised almost half of the total (Formula presented.) reduction. At these stations, the removal of fixed N was inefficient due to high effluxes of (Formula presented.). Sedimentary N2O production was associated with incomplete denitrification, accounting for 41–88% of the total denitrification rate. Microprofiling revealed algae aggregates as potential hotspots of seafloor N2O production. Our results show that transient oxygenation of euxinic systems initiates benthic (Formula presented.) reduction, but may not lead to efficient sedimentary removal of fixed N. Instead, recycling of N compounds is promoted, which may accelerate the return to anoxia.

TidsskriftLimnology and Oceanography
Sider (fra-til)419-433
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2022

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© 2021 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

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