Townsend-Small Amy

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  • Article
    River export of nutrients and organic matter from the North Slope of Alaska to the Beaufort Sea
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-02-28) McClelland, James W. ; Townsend-Small, Amy ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Pan, Feifei ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Khosh, Matt ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    While river-borne materials are recognized as important resources supporting coastal ecosystems around the world, estimates of river export from the North Slope of Alaska have been limited by a scarcity of water chemistry and river discharge data. This paper quantifies water, nutrient, and organic matter export from the three largest rivers (Sagavanirktok, Kuparuk, and Colville) that drain Alaska's North Slope and discusses the potential importance of river inputs for biological production in coastal waters of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Together these rivers export ∼297,000 metric tons of organic carbon and ∼18,000 metric tons of organic nitrogen each year. Annual fluxes of nitrate-N, ammonium-N, and soluble reactive phosphorus are approximately 1750, 200, and 140 metric tons per year, respectively. Constituent export from Alaska's North Slope is dominated by the Colville River. This is in part due to its larger size, but also because constituent yields are greater in the Colville watershed. River-supplied nitrogen may be more important to productivity along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast than previously thought. However, given the dominance of organic nitrogen export, the potential role of river-supplied nitrogen in support of primary production depends strongly on remineralization mechanisms. Although rivers draining the North Slope of Alaska make only a small contribution to overall river export from the pan-arctic watershed, comparisons with major arctic rivers reveal unique regional characteristics as well as remarkable similarities among different regions and scales. Such information is crucial for development of robust river export models that represent the arctic system as a whole.
  • Article
    Modeling transport and fate of riverine dissolved organic carbon in the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-10-07) Manizza, Manfredi ; Follows, Michael J. ; Dutkiewicz, Stephanie ; McClelland, James W. ; Menemenlis, Dimitris ; Hill, C. N. ; Townsend-Small, Amy ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    The spatial distribution and fate of riverine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Arctic may be significant for the regional carbon cycle but are difficult to fully characterize using the sparse observations alone. Numerical models of the circulation and biogeochemical cycles of the region can help to interpret and extrapolate the data and may ultimately be applied in global change sensitivity studies. Here we develop and explore a regional, three-dimensional model of the Arctic Ocean in which, for the first time, we explicitly represent the sources of riverine DOC with seasonal discharge based on climatological field estimates. Through a suite of numerical experiments, we explore the distribution of DOC-like tracers with realistic riverine sources and a simple linear decay to represent remineralization through microbial degradation. The model reproduces the slope of the DOC-salinity relationship observed in the eastern and western Arctic basins when the DOC tracer lifetime is about 10 years, consistent with published inferences from field data. The new empirical parameterization of riverine DOC and the regional circulation and biogeochemical model provide new tools for application in both regional and global change studies.
  • Article
    Seasonal and hydrologic drivers of dissolved organic matter and nutrients in the upper Kuparuk River, Alaskan Arctic
    (Springer, 2010-05-08) Townsend-Small, Amy ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    As the planet warms, widespread changes in Arctic hydrology and biogeochemistry have been documented and these changes are expected to accelerate in the future. Improved understanding of the behavior of water-borne constituents in Arctic rivers with varying hydrologic conditions, including seasonal variations in discharge–concentration relationships, will improve our ability to anticipate future changes in biogeochemical budgets due to changing hydrology. We studied the relationship between seasonal water discharge and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC and DON) and nutrient concentrations in the upper Kuparuk River, Arctic Alaska. Fluxes of most constituents were highest during initial snowmelt runoff in spring, indicating that this historically under-studied period contributes significantly to total annual export. In particular, the initial snowmelt period (the stream is completely frozen during the winter) accounted for upwards of 35% of total export of DOC and DON estimated for the entire study period. DOC and DON concentrations were positively correlated with discharge whereas nitrate (NO3 −) and silicate were negatively correlated with discharge throughout the study. However, discharge-specific DOC and DON concentrations (i.e. concentrations compared at the same discharge level) decreased over the summer whereas discharge-specific concentrations of NO3 − and silicate increased. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and ammonium (NH4 +) were negatively correlated with discharge during the spring thaw, but were less predictable with respect to discharge thereafter. These data provide valuable information on how Arctic watershed biogeochemistry will be affected by future changes in temperature, snowfall, and rainfall in the Arctic. In particular, our results add to a growing body of research showing that nutrient export per unit of stream discharge, particularly NO3 −, is increasing in the Arctic.