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Nitrous Oxide and nitrogen Cycling in Antarctic sea Ice Covered zone (OCeANIC)

Research project BL/12/C63 (Research action BL)

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The project aims to significantly increase our understanding of the nitrogen cycling and related production of nitrous oxide in Southern Ocean sea ice and water column. In particular, our results will allow to (i) shed light on the significance of sea ice biogeochemistry on nitrogen cycling in the water column; (ii) assess the production of N2O related to nitrogen cycling in both sea ice and underlying water; (iii) assess both air-sea and air-ice N2O fluxes. The partners expect to contribute significantly to a better insight into the significance of sea ice covered area as a sink or source of N2O for the atmosphere. Specific research outcomes will be:
- N&O isotopic compositions of most of the fixed N forms (i.., nitrous oxide)
- Significance of the nitrification process in sea ice and underlying water
- Characterisation of the ubiquitous nature of nitrification in Antarctic sea ice. An understanding of what controls N2O production, and more particularly the role of nitrification and denitrification
- Impact of melt water (sea ice and ice shelves) on air-sea N2O exchanges.
- What are the processes controlling the partitioning of fixed N and isotopes between the upper and lower limbs of the meridional overturning circulation and interfaces (sea ice and mixed layer).
- Fluxes of N2O between atmosphere, sea ice and water column
- Calibration for palaeoceanogaphic studies using sedimentary N isotopes in the polar Antarctic zone

This research addresses the questions of the FUTUREARTH projects SOLAS (Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study) and IMBER (Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research).
The collaboration is integrated in SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research) project, GEOTRACES (marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and isotopes) and BEPSII (Biogeochemical Exchange Processes at the Sea-Ice Interfaces) working groups. It is also integrated in SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research), ASPeCt (Antarctic Sea Ice Research and Climate) and ICED (Integrated Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics) expert groups.

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