Research

R.I. nitrogen cycle differs in bay and sound

Short distance, large difference

Out in Rhode Island sound, the anammox process is a mainstay of the natural cycle that returns sedimentary nitrogen to the atmosphere. In Narragansett Bay, anammox is almost completely absent. Why?  Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

A new study reports that anammox, a key process in the nitrogen cycle, is barely present in Narragansett Bay even though it’s a major factor just a little farther out into Rhode Island Sound. Scientists traced that to differences between bay and sound sediments, but that raises new questions about what’s going on in the Bay to account for those.