How is nitrogen removed from the ocean? Some new findings may provide answers.
The debate centers on how nitrogen, one of the most important food sources for ocean life and a controller of atmospheric carbon dioxide, becomes converted to a form that can exit the ocean and return to the atmosphere where it is reused in the global nitrogen cycle.
Researchers have argued over which of two nitrogen-removal mechanisms, denitrification and anammox, is most important in the oceans. The question is not just a scientific curiosity, but has real world applications because one mechanism contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than the other.