Alkyl nitrate (C-1-C-3) depth profiles in the tropical Pacific Ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper reports the first depth profile measurements of methyl, ethyl, isopropyl and n-propyl nitrates in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Depth profile measurements were made at 22 stations during the Project Halocarbon Air Sea Exchange cruise, in warm pool, equatorial, subequatorial, and gyre waters. The highest concentrations, up to several hundred pM of methyl nitrate, were observed in the central Pacific within 8 degrees of the equator. In general, alkyl nitrate levels were highest in the surface mixed layer, and decreased with depth below the mixed layer. The spatial distribution of the alkyl nitrates suggests that there is a strong source associated with biologically productive ocean regions, that is characterized by high ratios of methyl:ethyl nitrate. However, the data do not allow discrimination between direct biological emissions and photochemistry as production mechanisms. Alkyl nitrates were consistently detectable at several hundred meters depth. On the basis of the estimated chemical loss rate of these compounds, we conclude that deep water alkyl nitrates must be produced in situ. Possible sources include free radical processes initiated by radioactive decay or cosmic rays, enzymatically mediated reactions involving bacteria, or unidentified chemical mechanisms involving dissolved organic matter. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Dahl, E. E., Yvon-Lewis, S. A., & Saltzman, E. S.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Dahl, EE||Yvon-Lewis, SA||Saltzman, ES

publication date

  • January 2007