Distribution and air–sea exchange of nitrous oxide in the coastal Bay of Bengal during peak discharge period (southwest monsoon)
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In order to examine the impact of river discharge from the Indian subcontinent on the concentration and air–sea exchange of nitrous oxide (N sub(2)O) a study was conducted during peak discharge period in the coastal Bay of Bengal, The study revealed that freshwater discharge exerts a dominant control on the N sub(2)O cycling in the surface waters of the coastal Bay of Bengal. The surface concentration of N sub(2)O in the southwestern (SW) coastal Bay of Bengal was high (7.4 plus or minus 1.6 nM) and supersaturated (126 plus or minus 27 percent) whereas contrasting trend was found in the northwestern (NW) region (4.9 plus or minus 0.3 nM and 81 plus or minus 6 percent). Such spatial differences in N sub(2)O concentration and saturation were resulted from variable characteristics of the discharged waters, and vertical stratification. The NW region of the coastal Bay of Bengal was under the influence of the discharge from the Ganges River having N sub(2)O below the saturation in the estuary (82 plus or minus 5 percent) while the SW region was under the influence of peninsular river discharges that were super-saturated (187 plus or minus 29 percent). The low N sub(2)O concentration at NW region resulted from low concentrations in the source water (Ganges) as these waters were formed by melting of the Himalayan glacier where low ammonium concentrations were observed due to less human settlement resulting in lower nitrification rates. Higher concentration of N sub(2)O in the SW region was attributed to the discharge from monsoonal rivers containing high N sub(2)O concentrations, high nitrification rates and mild coastal upwelling. The sea-to-air fluxes of N sub(2)O suggest that NW region is a sink for atmospheric N sub(2)O due to discharge of under saturated water from Ganges and strong stratification while SW region is a source caused by coastal upwelling and discharge of highly saturated water from monsoonal rivers.
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