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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Princeton University
  • Daniel M Sigman
  • (609) 258-2194
Award Date:11/30/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 361,380
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 156,920
  • FY 2018=$156,920
Start Date:01/01/2018
End Date:12/31/2020
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: US GEOTRACES PMT: Investigating geochemical tracers of the Pacific nitrogen cycle and budget
Federal Award ID Number:1736652
DUNS ID:002484665
Parent DUNS ID:002484665
Program Officer:
  • Simone Metz
  • (703) 292-8582

Awardee Location

Street:Off. of Research & Proj. Admin.
Awardee Cong. District:12

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Princeton University
Street:PO Box 36
Cong. District:12

Abstract at Time of Award

Nitrate is an important nutrient that marine plants and algae need for growth. It is abundant in deep ocean waters, but scarce in most sunlit surface waters. The purpose of this project is to better understand what controls the availability of nitrate in the deep ocean and its delivery to surface waters. Researchers from Stanford University, Princeton University, and Brown University will analyze the stable isotopes of seawater nitrate collected between Alaska and Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean. The data will provide information about the supply of nitrate to a large section of the Pacific Ocean and allow informed decisions on past and future changes in marine photosynthesis. This collaborative project will be carried under the GEOTRACES program, an international effort to understand the distribution of elements in the global ocean. This study will include undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral researchers at all three academic instititutions. The investigators will develop a 1-day workshop for the Teachers as Scholars program, for middle and high school teachers at Princeton University. The workshop will focus on accessing and visualizing ocean data sets and other content available on the internet for project-based learning in the classroom. Investigators will also participate in teacher workshops offered each summer at Stanford University. Data from this project will be made available to the public through the Biological and Chemical Oceanography-Data Management Office ( The data will also be compiled in GEOTRACES data products that will be freely available. The isotopic composition of nitrate in the ocean interior records biogeochemical and physical processes on the time scales of years, decades, centuries, and millennia, with the shallow subsurface and deep ocean recording shorter and longer time scales, respectively. These are meaningful time scales in the efforts to (1) understand the feedbacks that structure the biogeochemistry of N in the ocean, ocean productivity, and the global carbon cycle, (2) reconstruct past changes in ocean biogeochemistry and carbon cycling, and (3) perhaps predict future changes. This proposal seeks to analyze the nitrate isotopes during the upcoming US GEOTRACES Pacific Meridional Transect (GP15) between Alaska and Tahiti. Nitrate isotopes provide critical constraints on the ocean N cycle and budget, especially in the Pacific Ocean where a variety of processes affect the distribution of nitrate and its supply to surface waters. This largely meridional section of nitrate isotope data will be broadly useful as part of the growing nitrate isotope dataset for the global ocean and for comparison to the many complementary geochemical data sets that will be generated as part of this GEOTRACES effort. In addition, nitrate isotopes in aerosols will be measured to support interpretations of nitrate isotopes in surface waters along the section. The proposed measurements will contribute to the investigation of three overarching questions: 1) What are the similarities and differences in N biogeochemistry among the different nutrient-rich regions in the Pacific basin: the Southern Ocean, equatorial Pacific, and subarctic North Pacific, and how do they affect nitrate supply to low-latitude surface waters? 2) What sources of nitrogen fuel export production in surface waters across the Pacific? 3) What are the roles in surface and subsurface processes in the distribution of nitrate isotopes in the ocean interior?

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