Nutrient regime shift in the western North Atlantic indicated by compound-specific delta(15)N of deep-sea gorgonian corals

Sherwood, O. A. and Lehmann, M. F. and Schubert, C. J. and Scott, D. B. and McCarthy, M. D.. (2011) Nutrient regime shift in the western North Atlantic indicated by compound-specific delta(15)N of deep-sea gorgonian corals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 108, H. 3. pp. 1011-1015.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A5848953

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Despite the importance of the nitrogen (N) cycle on marine produc- tivity, little is known about variability in N sources and cycling in the ocean in relation to natural and anthropogenic climate change. Beyond the last few decades of scientific observation, knowledge depends largely on proxy records derived from nitrogen stable isotopes (δ15N) preserved in sediments and other bioarchives. Traditional bulk δ15N measurements, however, represent the com- bined influence of N source and subsequent trophic transfers, often confounding environmental interpretation. Recently, compound- specific analysis of individual amino acids (δ15N-AA) has been shown as a means to deconvolve trophic level versus N source effects on the δ15N variability of bulk organic matter. Here, we demonstrate the first use of δ15N-AA in a paleoceanographic study, through analysis of annually secreted growth rings preserved in the organic endoskeletons of deep-sea gorgonian corals. In the Northwest Atlantic off Nova Scotia, coral δ15N is correlated with increasing presence of subtropical versus subpolar slope waters over the twentieth century. By using the new δ15N-AA approach to control for variable trophic processing, we are able to interpret coral bulk δ15N values as a proxy for nitrate source and, hence, slope water source partitioning. We conclude that the persistence of the warm, nutrient-rich regime since the early 1970s is largely unique in the context of the last approximately 1,800 yr. This evidence suggests that nutrient variability in this region is coordi- nated with recent changes in global climate and underscores the broad potential of δ15N-AA for paleoceanographic studies of the marine N cycle.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Aquatic and Isotope Biogeochemistry (Lehmann)
UniBasel Contributors:Lehmann, Moritz F
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:14 Sep 2012 07:22
Deposited On:14 Sep 2012 07:16

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