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Posted Fri May 16 2008: from Science, via EurekAlert:
Atmosphere threatened by pollutants entering ocean, prof says
Human-caused atmospheric nitrogen compounds are carried by wind and deposited into the ocean, where they act as a fertilizer and lead to increased production of marine plant life. The increase in plant life causes more carbon dioxide to be drawn from the atmosphere into the ocean. This process results in the removal of about 10 percent of the human-caused carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus potentially reducing the climate warming potential, according to the team's paper.... However, some of the nitrogen deposited in the ocean is re-processed to form another nitrogen compound called nitrous oxide, which is then released back into the atmosphere from the ocean. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas itself about 300 times more powerful per molecule than carbon dioxide thus cancelling out about two-thirds of the apparent gain from the carbon dioxide removal, Duce explained. "But of course, the whole system is so complex that we're still rather unsure about what some of the other impacts might be within the ocean," he said.
[Read more stories about: ocean warming, ocean acidification, ecosystem interrelationships]

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