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Nitrous oxide emissions set to rise in the Pacific Ocean

A research team conducted jointly by scientists at EPFL, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) took measurements in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Japan, between 2013 and 2016. They discovered that in the subarctic region of the Pacific – near Hokkaido and the Kuril Islands – the water’s lower pH is causing a significant increase in N2O production. Moreover, they concluded that if pH levels keep falling at the current rate, or 0.0051 units/year – assuming there is no decrease in CO2 emissions – the N2O production rate in that part of the Pacific could rise by 185% to 491% by 2100. And the greenhouse gas effect of N2O is 298 times greater than that of CO2. The study was published in Nature Climate Change. “Our study provides additional proof that rising CO2 emissions are disrupting natural biogeochemical cycles, which are highly sensitive to changes in the environment. Additional research is needed to see whether the same process is occurring in other parts of the world,” says Florian Breider, the study’s lead author and head of EPFL’s Central Environmental Laboratory (CEL).