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    Author(s): J.J. Beaulieu; J.L. Tank; S.K. Hamilton; W.M. Wollheim; R.O. Hall; P.J. Mulholland; B.J. Peterson; L.R. Ashkenas; L.W. Cooper; C.N. Dahm; W.K. Dodds; N.B. Grimm; S.L. Johnson; W.H. McDowell; G.C. Poole; H.M. Valett; C.P. Arango; M.J. Bernot; A.J. Burgin; C.L. Crenshaw; A.M. Helton; L.T. Johnson; J.M. O'Brien; J.D. Potter; R.W. Sheibley; D.J. Sobota; S.M. Thomas
    Date: 2011
    Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108(1): 214-219
    Publication Series: Full Proceedings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (459.6 KB)


    Nitrous oxide (N20) is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone destruction. Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) loading to river networks is a potentially important source of N20 via microbial denitrification that converts N to N20 and dinitrogen (N2). The fraction of denitrified N that escapes as N20 rather than N20 (i.e., the N2 yield) is an important determinant of how much N20 is produced by river networks, but little is known about the N20 yield in flowing waters. Here, we present the results of whole-stream 15N-tracer additions conducted in 72 headwater streams draining multiple land-use types across the United States. We found that stream denitrification produces N20 at rates that Increase with stream water nitrate concentrations, but that <1% of denitrified N is converted to N20. Unlike some previous studies, we found no relationship between the N20 yield and stream water. In our study, most streams were sources of N20 to the atmosphere and the highest emission rates were observed in streams draining urban basins.

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    Beaulieu, J.J.; Tank, J.L.; Hamilton, S.K.; Wollheim, W.M.; Hall, R.O.; Mulholland, P.J.; Peterson, B.J.; Ashkenas, L.R.; Cooper, L.W.; Dahm, C.N.; Dodds, W.K.; Grimm, N.B.; Johnson, S.L.; McDowell, W.H.; Poole, G.C.; Valett, H.M.; Arango, C.P.; Bernot, M.J.; Burgin, A.J.; Crenshaw, C.L.; Helton, A.M.; Johnson, L.T.; O'Brien, J.M.; Potter, J.D.; Sheibley, R.W.; Sobota, D.J.; Thomas, S.M. 2011. Nitrous oxide emission from denitrification in stream and river networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108(1): 214-219.


    aquatic ecosystems, biogeochemistry, nutrients, nitrogen, isotopes, stream channel networks, ecosystem modeling

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