Imbalance between vertical nitrate flux and nitrate assimilation on a continental shelf: Implications of nitrification

Takuhei Shiozaki, Ken Furuya, Hiroyuki Kurotori, Taketoshi Kodama, Shigenobu Takeda, Takahiro Endoh, Yutaka Yoshikawa, Joji Ishizaka, Takeshi Matsuno

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The nitrate assimilation rate and diapycnal nitrate flux were simultaneously determined on the continental shelf of the East China Sea (ECS). Further, the archaeal amoA gene was quantified to examine the potential distribution of nitrification activity. Nitrate assimilation rates and distribution of the archaeal amoA gene were also investigated in the Philippine Sea and in the Kuroshio Current. At all the stations, while the surface nitrate was depleted (<0.1 μM), active nitrate assimilation was observed with mean rates of 1400, 270, and 96 molN m-2 d-1 in the ECS, the Philippine Sea, and the Kuroshio Current, respectively. Archaeal amoA was observed at shallower light depths, namely at or above 10% light depth, in the ECS than in other regions, suggesting that nitrification occurred within the euphotic zone in the ECS, especially on the shelf. Moreover, a station on the continental shelf of the ECS exhibited a considerable discrepancy between the nitrate assimilation rate (1500 μmolN m-2 d-1) and vertical nitrate flux (98 μmolN m-2 d-1). Here, 6.7 ± 3.1 × 103 and 2.5 ± 0.7 × 105 copies mL-1 of archaeal amoA were detected at 10% and 1% light depths relative to the surface, respectively. Thus nitrification within the euphotic zone would be attributed at least in part to the observed discrepancy between nitrate assimilation and vertical flux. These observations imply that the assumption of a direct relationship between new production, export production, and measured nitrate assimilation is misplaced, particularly regarding the continental shelf of the ECS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC10031
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Oceanography


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