Nitrogen is an element of great paradox. Despite it constituting the most readily available gas in the Earth’s atmosphere most organisms have no ability to consume it, yet it is essential for their survival. Instead, organisms utilize reactive forms of nitrogen which are produced by a range of processes. With such dependency the bioavailability of reactive nitrogen is a major limiting factor on the productivity of an ecosystem. Following the development of inorganic fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels through the industrial revolution, humans have been contributing more reactive nitrogen into the global nitrogen cycle for the last 100 years enabling us to feed our growing population but with significant consequences for our environment.
When reactive nitrogen is lost to the environment, numerous environmental problems such as smog, acidification, climate change, and eutrophication can result. To understand the mechanisms leading to these negative outcomes stable isotope analysis is incredibly powerful for elucidating the sources, sinks and cycling of nitrogen throughout terrestrial, atmospheric and marine ecosystems.
EnvirovisION is a specially configured stable isotope analyzer for the isotopic analysis of atmospheric N2O and dissolved nitrate samples, and has been enhanced to utilize the new titanium (III) reduction method* making isotopic analysis of dissolved nitrate in environmental samples simpler and faster than ever before.
* Altabet, M.A., Wassenaar, L.I., Douence, C., Roy, R. (2019) A Ti(III) reduction method for one-step conversion of seawater and freshwater nitrate into N2O for stable isotopic analysis of 15N/14N, 18O/16O and 17O/16O, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Vol 33, Issue 15, Pages 1227-1239. Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/rcm.8454