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Title: Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N 15N

Abstract

Molecular nitrogen (N 2) comprises three-quarters of Earth’s atmosphere and significant portions of other planetary atmospheres. We report a 19 per mil (‰) excess of 15N 15N in air relative to a random distribution of nitrogen isotopes, an enrichment that is 10 times larger than what isotopic equilibration in the atmosphere allows. Biological experiments show that the main sources and sinks of N 2 yield much smaller proportions of 15N 15N in N 2. Electrical discharge experiments, however, establish 15N 15N excesses of up to +23‰. We argue that 15N 15N accumulates in the atmosphere because of gas-phase chemistry in the thermosphere (>100 km altitude) on time scales comparable to those of biological cycling. The atmospheric 15N 15N excess therefore reflects a planetary-scale balance of biogeochemical and atmospheric nitrogen chemistry, one that may also exist on other planets.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [3]; ORCiD logo [4];  [4];  [1]; ORCiD logo [5];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Rice Univ., Houston, TX (United States). Dept. of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
  2. Rice Univ., Houston, TX (United States). Dept. of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences; Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States). Dept. of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences
  3. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States). Dept. of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences
  4. Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States). Dept. of Integrative Biology. Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
  5. Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States). Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States); Rice Univ., Houston, TX (United States); Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1499957
Grant/Contract Number:  
[FC02-07ER64494; OCE-1533501; EAR-1349182; EAR-1348935; EAR-1530306]
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science Advances
Additional Journal Information:
[ Journal Volume: 3; Journal Issue: 11]; Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Publisher:
AAAS
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Yeung, Laurence Y., Li, Shuning, Kohl, Issaku E., Haslun, Joshua A., Ostrom, Nathaniel E., Hu, Huanting, Fischer, Tobias P., Schauble, Edwin A., and Young, Edward D. Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N15N. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao6741.
Yeung, Laurence Y., Li, Shuning, Kohl, Issaku E., Haslun, Joshua A., Ostrom, Nathaniel E., Hu, Huanting, Fischer, Tobias P., Schauble, Edwin A., & Young, Edward D. Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N15N. United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao6741.
Yeung, Laurence Y., Li, Shuning, Kohl, Issaku E., Haslun, Joshua A., Ostrom, Nathaniel E., Hu, Huanting, Fischer, Tobias P., Schauble, Edwin A., and Young, Edward D. Fri . "Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N15N". United States. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao6741. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1499957.
@article{osti_1499957,
title = {Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N15N},
author = {Yeung, Laurence Y. and Li, Shuning and Kohl, Issaku E. and Haslun, Joshua A. and Ostrom, Nathaniel E. and Hu, Huanting and Fischer, Tobias P. and Schauble, Edwin A. and Young, Edward D.},
abstractNote = {Molecular nitrogen (N2) comprises three-quarters of Earth’s atmosphere and significant portions of other planetary atmospheres. We report a 19 per mil (‰) excess of 15N15N in air relative to a random distribution of nitrogen isotopes, an enrichment that is 10 times larger than what isotopic equilibration in the atmosphere allows. Biological experiments show that the main sources and sinks of N2 yield much smaller proportions of 15N15N in N2. Electrical discharge experiments, however, establish 15N15N excesses of up to +23‰. We argue that 15N15N accumulates in the atmosphere because of gas-phase chemistry in the thermosphere (>100 km altitude) on time scales comparable to those of biological cycling. The atmospheric 15N15N excess therefore reflects a planetary-scale balance of biogeochemical and atmospheric nitrogen chemistry, one that may also exist on other planets.},
doi = {10.1126/sciadv.aao6741},
journal = {Science Advances},
number = [11],
volume = [3],
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {11}
}

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Cited by: 4 works
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Figures / Tables:

Fig. 1. Fig. 1.: Isotopic composition of N2 from natural samples and laboratory experiments. The covariation of all three isotopic variants of N2 is shown by plotting δ30N2 versus δ29N2. Mass-dependent fractionation curves for air and high-temperature equilibrated N2 are also shown. Error bars are smaller than the data points.

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    Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.