The relative abundance of nitrate (N) over phosphorus (P) has increased over the period since 1980 in the marginal seas bordering the northwestern Pacific Ocean, located downstream of the populated and industrialized Asian continent. The increase in N availability within the study area was mainly driven by increasing N concentrations and was most likely due to deposition of pollutant nitrogen from atmospheric sources. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition had a high temporal correlation with N availability in the study area (r = 0.74 to 0.88), except in selected areas wherein riverine nitrogen load may be of equal importance. The increase in N availability caused by atmospheric deposition and riverine input has switched extensive parts of the study area from being N-limited to P-limited.
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