Brooks Thomas W.

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Thomas W.

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  • Article
    Oxygen-controlled recirculating seepage meter reveals extent of nitrogen transformation in discharging coastal groundwater at the aquifer-estuary interface
    (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2021-06-04) Brooks, Thomas W. ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Michael, Holly A. ; York, Joanna K.
    Nutrient loads delivered to estuaries via submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) play an important role in the nitrogen (N) budget and eutrophication status. However, accurate and reliable quantification of the chemical flux across the final decimeters and centimeters at the sediment–estuary interface remains a challenge, because there is significant potential for biogeochemical alteration due to contrasting conditions in the coastal aquifer and surface sediment. Here, a novel, oxygen- and light-regulated ultrasonic seepage meter, and a standard seepage meter, were used to measure SGD and calculate N species fluxes across the sediment–estuary interface. Coupling the measurements to an endmember approach based on subsurface N concentrations and an assumption of conservative transport enabled estimation of the extent of transformation occurring in discharging groundwater within the benthic zone. Biogeochemical transformation within reactive estuarine surface sediment was a dominant driver in modifying the N flux carried upward by SGD, and resulted in a similar percentage of N removal (~ 42–52%) as did transformations occurring deeper within the coastal aquifer salinity mixing zone (~ 42–47%). Seasonal shifts in the relative importance of biogeochemical processes including denitrification, nitrification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction, and assimilation altered the composition of the flux to estuarine surface water, which was dominated by ammonium in June and by nitrate in August, despite the endmember-based observation that fixed N in discharging groundwater was strongly dominated by nitrate. This may have important ramifications for the ecology and management of estuaries, since past N loading estimates have generally assumed conservative transport from the nearshore aquifer to estuary.
  • Article
    Impoundment increases methane emissions in Phragmites‐invaded coastal wetlands
    (Wiley, 2022-05-26) Sanders-DeMott, Rebecca ; Eagle, Meagan ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Wang, Faming ; Brooks, Thomas W. ; O'Keefe Suttles, Jennifer A. ; Nick, Sydney K. ; Mann, Adrian G. ; Tang, Jianwu
    Saline tidal wetlands are important sites of carbon sequestration and produce negligible methane (CH4) emissions due to regular inundation with sulfate-rich seawater. Yet, widespread management of coastal hydrology has restricted tidal exchange in vast areas of coastal wetlands. These ecosystems often undergo impoundment and freshening, which in turn cause vegetation shifts like invasion by Phragmites, that affect ecosystem carbon balance. Understanding controls and scaling of carbon exchange in these understudied ecosystems is critical for informing climate consequences of blue carbon restoration and/or management interventions. Here, we (1) examine how carbon fluxes vary across a salinity gradient (4–25 psu) in impounded and natural, tidally unrestricted Phragmites wetlands using static chambers and (2) probe drivers of carbon fluxes within an impounded coastal wetland using eddy covariance at the Herring River in Wellfleet, MA, United States. Freshening across the salinity gradient led to a 50-fold increase in CH4 emissions, but effects on carbon dioxide (CO2) were less pronounced with uptake generally enhanced in the fresher, impounded sites. The impounded wetland experienced little variation in water-table depth or salinity during the growing season and was a strong CO2 sink of −352 g CO2-C m−2 year−1 offset by CH4 emission of 11.4 g CH4-C m−2 year−1. Growing season CH4 flux was driven primarily by temperature. Methane flux exhibited a diurnal cycle with a night-time minimum that was not reflected in opaque chamber measurements. Therefore, we suggest accounting for the diurnal cycle of CH4 in Phragmites, for example by applying a scaling factor developed here of ~0.6 to mid-day chamber measurements. Taken together, these results suggest that although freshened, impounded wetlands can be strong carbon sinks, enhanced CH4 emission with freshening reduces net radiative balance. Restoration of tidal flow to impounded ecosystems could limit CH4 production and enhance their climate regulating benefits.