Regional and global scale modeling of the benthic marine nitrogen cycle
The benthic nitrogen (N) cycle is highly dynamic and diverse due to the strong redox gradients occurring in marine surface sediments and the variety of oxidation states accessible to nitrogen. Since N is a limiting nutrient for biological productivity, fluxes of nitrogenous species across the sediment-water interface may strongly affect the biogeochemistry of nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus in the oceanic water column. In particular, as a major sink for fixed N in the marine environment, benthic denitrification has a profound impact on the availability of bioavailable N in the oceans. Consequently, an understanding of N cycling in marine sediments is of major importance for constraining the global marine nitrogen budget and quantifying benthic-pelagic feedbacks. The thesis addresses benthic N turnover on local and global scales with a special focus on oxygen minimum zones where strong lateral redox gradients lead to unique and highly interesting interactions in N cycling.