Articles | Volume 5, issue 6
10 Dec 2008
 | 10 Dec 2008

Deposition of nitrogen and phosphorus on the Baltic Sea: seasonal patterns and nitrogen isotope composition

C. Rolff, R. Elmgren, and M. Voss

Abstract. Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and phosphorus on the central Baltic Sea (Baltic Proper) was estimated monthly at two coastal stations and two isolated islands in 2001 and 2002. Yearly nitrogen deposition ranged between 387 and 727 mg N m−2 yr−1 (average 617) and was composed of ~10% organic N and approximately equal amounts of ammonium and nitrate. Winter nitrate peaks at the isolated islands possibly indicated ship emissions. Load weighted δ15N of deposited N was 3.7‰ and 0.35‰ at the coastal stations and the isolated islands respectively. Winter δ15N was ~3‰ lighter than in summer, reflecting winter dominance of nitrate. The light isotopic composition of deposited nitrogen may cause overestimates of nitrogen fixation in basin-wide isotopic budgeting, whereas relatively heavy deposition of ammonium during summer instead may cause underestimates of fixation in budgets of the upper mixed layer. δ15N in atmospherically deposited nitrate and ammonium was estimated by regression to −7.9 and 13.5‰ respectively. Phosphorus deposition showed no clear seasonal pattern and was considerably lower at the isolated islands. Organic P constituted 20–40% of annual P deposition. P deposition is unlikely to be a major source for cyanobacterial blooms but may potentially prolong an ongoing bloom.

Final-revised paper