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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Perennial N2 supersaturation in an Antarctic lake.

The dry valleys of southern Victoria Land in Antarctica contain several closed basins in which perennially ice-covered lakes are found. One of the most unusual features of these lakes is the occurrence of high O2 concentrations in the water column; values ranging from slightly more than saturation to more than four times saturation have been reported. Recently, we considered a bulk O2 budget for Lake Hoare, Antarctica, which led us to suggest that biological processes alone were not sufficient to explain the observed elevated oxygen levels. Consequently, there must be a non-biological source of O2. We suggested that this source results from the exclusion of O2 during the freezing of aerated meltstream water at the bottom of the ice cover, and predicted that this physical mechanism should also enhance the other atmospheric gases. Here we report the results of a study which, for the first time, documents the supersaturation of N2 in a lake. Dissolved N2 levels of 145% and 163% were determined from samples taken just below the ice cover and at a depth of 12 m, respectively. The relatively importance of biological and abiological sources is reflected in the ratio of N2 concentration to O2 concentration. In Lake Hoare this ratio was 1.20 at ice/water interface and 1.05 at 12 m; considerably different from the ratio in equilibrium with air (approximately 1.8). Based on these results, we have determined that about half of the net O2 production in the lake is the result of biological processes.[1]


  1. Perennial N2 supersaturation in an Antarctic lake. Wharton, R.A., McKay, C.P., Mancinelli, R.L., Simmons, G.M. Nature (1987) [Pubmed]
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