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Quantifying the Impact of Anthropogenic Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition on the Generation of Hypoxia under Future Emission Scenarios in Chinese Coastal Waters

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journal contribution
posted on 11.03.2020, 14:53 by Yu Yan Yau, David M. Baker, Benoit Thibodeau
Atmospheric deposition is an important source of nitrogen to coastal waters. In nitrogen-limited waters, the atmosphere can contribute significantly to eutrophication and hypoxia. This is especially true in China, where nitrogen emissions have increased dramatically and are projected to further increase in the future. Here, we modeled the potential future impact of change in atmospheric nitrogen deposition on hypoxia in Chinese coastal seas. We used changes in nitrogen deposition under two IPCC scenarios that included emission regulation and climate change (representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5) to evaluate the impacts of such deposition on hypoxia in the 2030s and 2100s. We found that by 2030 the extent of hypoxic areas would increase up to 5% in China seas under RCP 8.5 due to the projected increase in nitrogen deposition. However, the hypoxia extent was projected to decrease by up to 9% by 2100 once emission regulations included in RCP 4.5 and 8.5 are implemented. The South China Sea was found to be the most sensitive region to changes in nitrogen loads, which indicates that more effort in emissions control is needed to avoid expansion of the hypoxic zones in that specific region.