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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-163
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Jul 2016
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Increased nitrate and decreased δ15N–NO3 in the Greenland Arctic after 1940 attributed to North American oil burning
Nathan J. Chellman1,2, Meredith G. Hastings2, and Joseph R. McConnell1 1Desert Research Institute, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Reno, NV, USA
2Brown University, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Providence, RI, USA
Abstract. Nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2) have an important impact on the atmosphere and biosphere through controls on oxidant concentrations and the formation of nitric acid (e.g. acid rain). Anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuel combustion, land use change, and agriculture have altered the global nitrogen cycle since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution but contributions from specific sources are difficult to quantify, hindering understanding of changes to the natural environment and design of effective mitigation strategies. Ice core records reveal changes in the nitrogen cycle over time in connection to climate, atmospheric chemistry, and the biosphere. Here we use a seasonally resolved ice core record of the nitrogen isotopic composition of nitrate (δ15N–NO3), together with a broad suite of highly resolved (> 22 samples y−1) elemental and chemical tracers, to investigate sources of nitrate deposited in central Greenland from 1760 CE to present. A marked negative trend in δ15N–NO3 since ~ 1940 CE paralleled a nearly three-fold increase in nitrate concentration. Based on correlated increases in tracer concentrations, independent emission estimates of oil burning, and an isotope mixing model, North American oil combustion likely was the primary driver of recent changes in the nitrogen cycle recorded in Greenland.

Citation: Chellman, N. J., Hastings, M. G., and McConnell, J. R.: Increased nitrate and decreased δ15N–NO3 in the Greenland Arctic after 1940 attributed to North American oil burning, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-163, 2016.
Nathan J. Chellman et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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RC1: 'review of Chellman et al.', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Aug 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC1: 'Reply to Review #1', Nathan Chellman, 03 Oct 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
 
RC2: 'Review', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 Aug 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC2: 'Reply to Review #2', Nathan Chellman, 03 Oct 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Nathan J. Chellman et al.
Nathan J. Chellman et al.

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This manuscript analyzes the changing sources of nitrate deposition to Greenland since 1760 CE using a dataset consisting of sub-seasonally resolved nitrogen isotopes of nitrate and source tracers. Correlations amongst ion concentration, source tracers, and the δ15N–NO3 provide evidence of the impact of biomass burning and fossil fuel combustion emissions of nitrogen oxides and suggest that oil combustion is the likely driver of increased nitrate concentration in Greenland ice since 1940 CE.
This manuscript analyzes the changing sources of nitrate deposition to Greenland since 1760 CE...
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