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Title: Global reconstruction reduces the uncertainty of oceanic nitrous oxide emissions and reveals a vigorous seasonal cycle

Assessment of the global budget of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) is limited by poor knowledge of the oceanicN2O flux to the atmosphere, of which the magnitude, spatial distribution, and temporal variability remain highly uncertain. Here, we reconstruct climatologicalN2O emissions from the ocean by training a supervised learning algorithm with over 158,000N2O measurements from the surface ocean—the largest synthesis to date. The reconstruction captures observed latitudinal gradients and coastal hot spots ofN2O flux and reveals a vigorous global seasonal cycle. We estimate an annual meanN2O flux of 4.2 ± 1.0 Tg Ny1, 64% of which occurs in the tropics, and 20% in coastal upwelling systems that occupy less than 3% of the ocean area. ThisN2O flux ranges from a low of 3.3 ± 1.3 Tg Ny1in the boreal spring to a high of 5.5 ± 2.0 Tg Ny1in the boreal summer. Much of the seasonal variations in globalN2O emissions can be traced to seasonal upwelling in the tropical ocean and winter mixing in the Southern Ocean. The dominant contribution to seasonality by productive, low-oxygen tropical upwelling systems more » (>75%) suggests a sensitivity of the globalN2O flux to El Niño–Southern Oscillation and anthropogenic stratification of the low latitude ocean. This ocean flux estimate is consistent with the range adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but reduces its uncertainty by more than fivefold, enabling more precise determination of other terms in the atmosphericN2O budget.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 11954-11960
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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