Impact of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on phytoplankton productivity in the South China Sea

Tae Wook Kim, Kitack Lee, Robert Duce, Peter Liss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


The impacts of anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition on the marine N cycle are only now being revealed, but the magnitudes of those impacts are largely unknown in time and space. The South China Sea (SCS) is particularly subject to high anthropogenic N deposition, because the adjacent countries are highly populated and have rapidly growing economies. Analysis of data sets for atmospheric N deposition, satellite chlorophyll-a (Chl-a), and air mass back trajectories reveals that the transport of N originating from the populated east coasts of China and Indonesia, and its deposition to the ocean, has been responsible for the enhancements of Chl-a in the SCS. We found that atmospheric N deposition contributed approximately 20% of the annual biological new production in the SCS. The airborne contribution of N to new production in the SCS is expected to grow considerably in the coming decades. Key Points N deposition contributed ~20% of the new production in the South China Sea Air masses from highly populated regions increased the Chl-a concentration

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3156-3162
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 16


  • Atmospheric nitrogen deposition
  • Chlorophyll-a
  • Concentration weighted trajectories
  • Ocean productivity
  • South China Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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