Brunelle Brigitte G.

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Brigitte G.

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  • Article
    Evidence from diatom-bound nitrogen isotopes for subarctic Pacific stratification during the last ice age and a link to North Pacific denitrification changes
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-03-02) Brunelle, Brigitte G. ; Sigman, Daniel M. ; Cook, Mea S. ; Keigwin, Lloyd D. ; Haug, Gerald H. ; Plessen, Birgit ; Schettler, Georg ; Jaccard, Samuel L.
    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 δ 15N, 70 wt % lower opal content and 1200 ppm lower biogenic barium. Taken together and with constraints on sediment accumulation rate, these results suggest a reduced supply of nitrate to the surface due to stronger stratification of the upper water column of the Bering Sea during glacial times, with more complete nitrate consumption resulting from continued iron supply through atmospheric deposition. This finding extends the body of evidence for a pervasive link between cold climates and polar ocean stratification. In addition, we hypothesize that more complete nutrient consumption in the glacial age subarctic Pacific contributed to the previously observed ice age reduction in suboxia and denitrification in the eastern tropical North Pacific by lowering the nutrient content of the intermediate-depth water formed in the subpolar North Pacific. In the deglacial interval of the Bering Sea record, two apparent peaks in export productivity are associated with maxima in diatom-bound and bulk sediment δ 15N. The high δ 15N in these intervals may have resulted from greater surface nutrient consumption during this period. However, the synchroneity of the deglacial peaks in the Bering Sea with similar bulk sediment δ 15N changes in the eastern Pacific margin and the presence of sediment lamination within the Bering Sea during the deposition of the productivity peaks raise the possibility that both regional and local denitrification worked to raise the δ 15N of the nitrate feeding Bering Sea surface waters at these times.
  • Article
    Origin of the deep Bering Sea nitrate deficit : constraints from the nitrogen and oxygen isotopic composition of water column nitrate and benthic nitrate fluxes
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-10-12) Lehmann, Moritz F. ; Sigman, Daniel M. ; McCorkle, Daniel C. ; Brunelle, Brigitte G. ; Hoffmann, Sharon S. ; Kienast, Markus ; Cane, Greg ; Clement, Jaclyn
    On the basis of the normalization to phosphate, a significant amount of nitrate is missing from the deep Bering Sea (BS). Benthic denitrification has been suggested previously to be the dominant cause for the BS nitrate deficit. We measured water column nitrate 15N/14N and 18O/16O as integrative tracers of microbial denitrification, together with pore water-derived benthic nitrate fluxes in the deep BS basin, in order to gain new constraints on the mechanism of fixed nitrogen loss in the BS. The lack of any nitrate isotope enrichment into the deep part of the BS supports the benthic denitrification hypothesis. On the basis of the nitrate deficit in the water column with respect to the adjacent North Pacific and a radiocarbon-derived ventilation age of ∼50 years, we calculate an average deep BS (>2000 m water depth) sedimentary denitrification rate of ∼230 μmol N m−2 d−1 (or 1.27 Tg N yr−1), more than 3 times higher than high-end estimates of the average global sedimentary denitrification rate for the same depth interval. Pore water-derived estimates of benthic denitrification were variable, and uncertainties in estimates were large. A very high denitrification rate measured from the base of the steep northern slope of the basin suggests that the elevated average sedimentary denitrification rate of the deep Bering calculated from the nitrate deficit is driven by organic matter supply to the base of the continental slope, owing to a combination of high primary productivity in the surface waters along the shelf break and efficient down-slope sediment focusing along the steep continental slopes that characterize the BS.