Studies in the Terrestrial Biosphere, the Atmosphere, and Ice Cores

Starting with the work of Ben Houlton, we have collaborated with the group of Lars Hedin in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in isotope studies of terrestrial N cycling. We have also worked on the nitrate N and O isotopes in rain, snow, and ice as tracers of reactive nitrogen sources and processing in the modern and ancient atmosphere.

References

220 Publications
The southward migration of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current enhanced oceanic degassing of carbon dioxide during the last two deglaciations
Previous studies suggest that meridional migrations of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current may have altered wind-driven upwelling and carbon dioxide degassing in the Southern Ocean during past climate transitions. Here, we report a quantitative and continuous record of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current latitude over the last glacial-interglacial…
Southern Ocean upwelling, Earth s obliquity, and glacial-interglacial atmospheric CO2 change
Previous studies have suggested that during the late Pleistocene ice ages, surface-deep exchange was somehow weakened in the Southern Ocean s Antarctic Zone, which reduced the leakage of deeply sequestered carbon dioxide and thus contributed to the lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of the ice ages. Here, high-resolution diatom-bound nitrogen…
The nitrogen isotope biogeochemistry of sinking particles from the margin of the eastern North Pacific
The nitrogen isotopic composition of time-series sediment trap samples, dissolved NO3/-, and surficial sediments was determined in three regions along the margin of the eastern North Pacific: Monterey Bay, San Pedro Basin, and the Gulf of California (Carmen and Guaymas Basins). Complex physical regimes are present in all three areas, and each is…
Isotopic composition of rainwater nitrate at Bermuda: The influence of air mass source and chemistry in the marine boundary layer
Emissions of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) to the atmosphere have increased tenfold since preindustrial times, resulting in increased N deposition to terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. The current sources of N deposition to the ocean, however, are poorly understood. To investigate the sources of nitrate in rainwater deposited to the ocean, two years…
Marine biogenic source of atmospheric organic nitrogen in the subtropical North Atlantic
Global models estimate that the anthropogenic component of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition to the ocean accounts for up to a third of the ocean s external N supply and 10% of anthropogenic CO2 uptake. However, there are few observational constraints from the marine atmospheric environment to validate these findings. Due to the paucity of…
Molecular characterization of water soluble organic nitrogen in marine rainwater by ultra-high resolution electrospray ionization mass spectrometry
Atmospheric water soluble organic nitrogen (WSON) is a subset of the complex organic matter in aerosols and rainwater, which impacts cloud condensation processes and aerosol chemical and optical properties and may play a significant role in the biogeochemical cycle of N. However, its sources, composition, connections to inorganic N, and…
Isotopic evidence for a marine ammonium source in rainwater at Bermuda
Emissions of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) to the atmosphere have increased tenfold since preindustrial times, resulting in increased N deposition to terrestrial and coastal ecosystems. The sources of N deposition to the ocean, however, are poorly understood. Two years of event-based rainwater samples were collected on the island of Bermuda in the…
Gulf Stream intensification after the early Pliocene shoaling of the Central American Seaway
The shoaling of the Central American Seaway (CAS) around 4.6 Ma (million years ago) is thought to have enhanced the Gulf Stream, strengthening the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and potentially influencing the evolution of Pliocene climate. Paleoclimate records indicate a buildup of heat and salt in the Caribbean and changes in the…
Enhanced ocean oxygenation during Cenozoic warm periods

Dissolved oxygen (O2) is essential for most ocean ecosystems, fuelling organisms’ respiration and facilitating the cycling of carbon and nutrients. Oxygen measurements have been interpreted to indicate that the ocean’s oxygen-deficient zones (ODZs) are expanding under global warming1,2. However, models provide an unclear picture of future ODZ…

An abrupt wind shift in western Europe at the onset of the Younger Dryas cold period
The Younger Dryas cooling 12,700 years ago is one of the most abrupt climate changes observed in Northern Hemisphere palaeoclimate records. Annually laminated lake sediments are ideally suited to record the dynamics of such abrupt changes, as the seasonal deposition responds immediately to climate, and the varve counts provide an accurate estimate…
Sustained losses of bioavailable nitrogen from montane tropical forests
Tropical forests account for one third of terrestrial primary production and contribute significantly to the land carbon sink 1,2. The future of this sink relies critically on forest interactions with nutrient cycles 3-5. Humid montane tropical forests are often thought to be rich in phosphorus, but to contain low levels of bioavailable nitrogen 6…
Evidence from diatom-bound nitrogen isotopes for subarctic Pacific stratification during the last ice age and a link to North Pacific denitrification changes
In a piston core from the central Bering Sea, diatom microfossil-bound N isotopes and the concentrations of Opal, biogenic barium, calcium carbonate, and organic N are measured over the last glacial/interglacial cycle. Compared to the interglacial sections of the core, the sediments of the last ice age are characterized by 3‰ higher diatom-bound…
Glacial/interglacial changes in nutrient supply and stratification in the western subarctic North Pacific since the penultimate glacial maximum
In piston cores from the open subarctic Pacific and the Okhotsk Sea, diatom-bound δ15N (δ15Ndb), biogenic opal, calcium carbonate, and barium were measured from coretop to the previous glacial maximum (MIS 6). Glacial intervals are generally characterized by high δ15Ndb (∼8‰) and low productivity, whereas interglacial intervals have a lower δ15Ndb…
A switch from Si(OH)4 to NO-3 depletion in the glacial Southern Ocean
Phytoplankton in the Antarctic deplete silicic acid (Si(OH)4) to a far greater extent than they do nitrate (NO3-). This pattern can be reversed by the addition of iron which dramatically lowers diatom Si(OH)4:NO3- uptake ratios. Higher iron supply during glacial times would thus drive the Antarctic towards NO3- depletion with excess Si(OH)4…
Active Pacific meridional overturning circulation (PMOC) during the warm Pliocene
An essential element of modern ocean circulation and climate is the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which includes deep-water formation in the subarctic North Atlantic. However, a comparable overturning circulation is absent in the Pacific, the world’s largest ocean, where relatively fresh surface waters inhibit North Pacific…
Atmospheric deposition of inorganic and organic nitrogen and base cations in Hawaii
Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen (N) and base cations was measured for 5-7 years on the island of Hawaii and for 1.5 years on Kauai. On Hawaii, mean annual fluxes of K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ were 15, 17, and 13 kg ha-1 yr-1, respectively. Fog interception was the largest deposition pathway. Sea salt contributed the majority of cations, although…
Measurement of the oxygen isotopic composition of nitrate in seawater and freshwater using the denitrifier method
We report a novel method for measurement of the oxygen isotopic composition (18O/16O) of nitrate (NO3-) from both seawater and freshwater. The denitrifier method, based on the isotope ratio analysis of nitrous oxide generated from sample nitrate by cultured denitrifying bacteria, has been described elsewhere for its use in nitrogen isotope ratio …
Linking diversity and stable isotope fractionation in ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
The link between similarity in amino acid sequence,for ammonia monooxygenase (AMO) and isotopic discrimination for ammonia oxidation (εAMO) was investigated in β-subdivision ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. The isotope effects for ammonia oxidation in pure cultures of the nitrifying strains. Nitrosomonas marina, Nitrosomonas C-113a, Nitrosospira tenuis…
Tracing the fate of seabird-derived nitrogen in a coral reef using nitrate and coral skeleton nitrogen isotopes
Seabirds transfer nutrients from the ocean to their nesting island, potentially altering nitrogen (N) cycling within adjacent terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Yet, the processes involved in seabird-N transfer along the land–sea continuum remain elusive. Using δ15N and δ18O measurements of groundwater nitrate, we demonstrate the role of brackish…
Enameloid-bound δ15N reveals large trophic separation among Late Cretaceous sharks in the northern Gulf of Mexico
The nitrogen isotopic composition (15N/14N ratio, or δ15N) of enameloid-bound organic matter (δ15NEB) in shark teeth was recently developed to investigate the biogeochemistry and trophic structures (i.e., food webs) of the ancient ocean. Using δ15NEB, we present the first nitrogen isotopic evidence for trophic differences between shark taxa from a…