Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was measured in marine surface waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean between 25degreesN and 25degreesS. H2O2 concentrations decreased from 80 nM in the north to 20 nM in the south, in agreement with earlier observations. A diel cycle of H2O2 production as a function of sunlight in surface waters was followed twice whilst the ship steamed southward. Around 23degreesN a distinct diel cycle could be measured which correlated well with irradiance conditions.
The wavelength dependency of H2O2 formation was studied near the equator. For 16 hours, water samples were incubated with wavelength hands of the solar spectrum, i.e. visible (VIS: 400-700 nm), VIS and ultraviolet A radiation (UVAR: 320-400 nm) and VIS, UVAR and ultraviolet B radiation (UVBR: 280-320 rim). A significant relationship was found between wavelength band and the production of H2O2. In addition, a clear positive relationship between intensity and production was found. UVAR was 6.5 times more efficient than VIS in producing 1 nM of H2O2, whereas UVBR was 228 times more efficient than VIS. When these data were weighted with respect to the energy of the solar spectrum at zenith hour, 28% of the H2O2 was formed by VIS, 23% was formed by UVAR and 48% was formed by UVBR. Considering the strong attenuation of UVBR in marine waters as compared with UVAR and VIS radiation, the role of UVAR deeper in the water column is recognised. Furthermore results of this research emphasise the importance of VIS radiation in the formation of H2O2. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.