Nitrous oxide (N2O) is one of the strongest natural greenhouse gases, and the ocean contributes approximately one third to N2O emissions to the atmosphere. N2O is produced biologically by microbes via different pathways at low oxygen concentrations. N2O consumption, however, is supposed to only take place via one single pathway and only at anoxic conditions. However, there are ocean regions, where N2O disappears from oxic surface waters suggesting a hitherto unknown way of consumption. Three different pathways could be responsible for this removal of N2O but none of those has been demonstrated directly.
In this project Carolin Löscher and her group will explore the Baltic, Greenlandic and tropical Atlantic waters in order to characterize and quantify the sink of N2O, and predict its importance for future climate change.