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Nitrous Oxide From Ocean Microbes Could Be Adding To Global Warming

Date:
December 12, 2007
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
A large amount of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is produced by bacteria in the oxygen poor depths of the ocean. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas some 300 times more so than carbon dioxide, it also attacks the ozone layer and causes acid rain.

A large amount of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is produced by bacteria in the oxygen poor parts of the ocean using nitrites according to Dr Mark Trimmer of Queen Mary, University of London.

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Dr Trimmer looked at nitrous oxide production in the Arabian Sea, which accounts for up to 18 % of global ocean emissions. He found that the gas is primarily produced by bacteria trying to make nitrogen gas.

"A third of the 'denitrification' that happens in the world's oceans occurs in the Arabian Sea (an area equivalent to France and Germany combined)" said Dr Trimmer. "Oxygen levels decrease as you go deeper into the sea. At around 130 metres there is what we call an oxygen minimum zone where oxygen is low or non-existent. Bacteria that produce nitrous oxide do well at this depth."

Gas produced at this depth could escape to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas some 300 times more so than carbon dioxide, it also attacks the ozone layer and causes acid rain.

"Recent reports suggest increased export of organic material from the surface layers of the ocean under increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. This could cause an expansion of the oxygen minimum zones of the world triggering ever greater emissions of nitrous oxide."


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Nitrous Oxide From Ocean Microbes Could Be Adding To Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210103955.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2007, December 12). Nitrous Oxide From Ocean Microbes Could Be Adding To Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210103955.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Nitrous Oxide From Ocean Microbes Could Be Adding To Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210103955.htm (accessed February 1, 2015).

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