Distribution of hydrogen peroxide in the northwest Pacific Ocean

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Abstract

[1] Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a reactive oxygen intermediate involved in the cycling of metals and dissolved organic matter. Because little is known of its distribution in the North Pacific Ocean, we determined H2O2 in surface waters continuously and obtained vertical profiles at nine stations during a cruise from Japan to Hawaii. Surface water H2O2 varied from less than 10 to more than 250 nmol dm−3. A diel cycle in surface water H2O2 (∼25 nmol dm−3) was observed only on one day during the monthlong cruise. This is contrary to expectations based on the usual assumption of photo-production as the dominant input of H2O2. Experiments were also conducted during the cruise to examine both photo-production and dark decay. The net rate of photo-production at a station near Hawaii was determined to be 8 nmol dm−3 h−1, similar to rates reported for the central Atlantic Ocean and Antarctic. However, this maximum estimate of photo-production is also similar to probable rates of H2O2 input by other mechanisms (biological production and rain). The pseudo-first-order rate constant for dark decay varied from 0.1 to 0.2 d−1, which is toward the low end of previous reports of H2O2 decay rates, and was observed to increase proportionately to the dissolved organic carbon concentration. Taken together, these results suggest that photo-production of H2O2 in open ocean waters may be less important than previously thought and therefore H2O2 is likely less of an indicator of the photo-chemical reactivity of surface waters than hoped for. Furthermore, we observed that the H2O2 inventory for the upper 200 m of the water column has a maximum at midlatitudes. We suggest that this results from diminished inputs at high latitude as well as increased decay rates at low latitudes.

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