Nitrate in coastal waters

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of Original Version



This chapter introduces the environmental consequences of the enrichment of marine waters by plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen, together with the principal concepts needed to understand it and the methods used to study it. It reviews the evidence implicating nitrogen in the fouling of marine waters and presents several case studies of large marine ecosystems. These studies, of the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the open waters of the Pacific, provide a warning against assuming that any single factor can explain all the complexities and intricacies of marine waters. However, nitrogen is the nutrient that limits primary production in coastal and estuarine waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the USA. There is no evidence that nitrogen limits production in the open water of the Pacific Ocean, which are probably iron-limited, or the subtropical waters of the Atlantic, which may be limited by phosphorus. The Baltic Sea is the most enclosed of the systems discussed, and suffers severe eutrophication for which nitrogen and phosphorus seem to share the responsibility.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Nitrate, Agriculture and the Environment