Nitrogen isotopic discrimination by water column nitrification in a shallow coastal environment
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Temporal changes in nitrogen isotopic composition (δ15N) of the NO3 − pool in the water column below the pycnocline in Ise Bay, Japan were investigated to evaluate the effect of nitrification on the change in the δ15N in the water column. The δ15N of NO3 − in the lower layers varied from −8.5‰ in May to +8.4‰ in July in response to the development of seasonal hypoxia and conversion from NH4 + to NO3 −. The significantly 15N-depleted NO3 − in May most likely arose from nitrification in the water column. The calculated apparent isotopic discrimination for water column nitrification (ɛnit = δ15Nsubstrate − δ15Nproduct) was 24.5‰, which lies within the range of previous laboratory-based estimates. Though prominent deficits of NO3 − from hypoxic bottom waters due to denitrification were revealed in July, the isotopic discrimination of denitrification in the sediments was low (ɛdenit = ∼1‰). δ15NNO3 in the hypoxic lower layer mainly reflects the isotopic effect of water column nitrification, given that water column nitrification is not directly linked with sedimentary denitrification and the effect of sedimentary denitrification on the change in δ15NNO3 is relatively small.
KeywordsIsotopic discrimination nitrification denitrification hypoxic waters
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