Photochemical production of ammonium in the oligotrophic Cyprus Gyre (Eastern Mediterranean)
- 1Ocean Research Group, School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7RU, UK
- 2Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
- *now at: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
- **now at: International Atomic Energy Authority Marine Ecology Laboratory, Monaco
Abstract. We investigated the photoproduction of ammonium (NH4+) in surface waters of the Cyprus gyre in the central Eastern Mediterranean in May 2002, in 8 on deck irradiations with freshly collected, filtered samples. NH4+ photoproduction (photoammonification) increased with time-integrated irradiance during the course of irradiations. Photoammonification rates around local noon were 0.4–2.9 nmol L−1 h−1. Normalised to time integrated irradiance, these rates were 0.9–3.8 pmol L−1 h−1/(W m−2) and were significantly correlated with Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) absorbance at 300 nm normalised to Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC). These results are consistent with the notion that successive CDOM photobleaching in the surface mixed layer results in decreased DOC-normalised light absorbance concurrent with decreased dissolved organic matter reactivity with regard to photochemical NH4+ release. Combining our experimental data with estimates of annual solar irradiance and water column light attenuation yields an annual photoammonification rate for the Cyprus Gyre of 40±17 mmol m−2 a−1, equivalent to ~12±5% of the previously estimated annual nitrogen requirement of new production and in the same order of magnitude as atmospheric N deposition in this region. Based on this analysis, NH4+ photoproduction makes a small, but significant contribution to the nitrogen budget of the euphotic zone in the oligotrophic Cyprus Gyre.