Peterson Bruce J.

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Bruce J.

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  • Article
    Recent changes in nitrate and dissolved organic carbon export from the upper Kuparuk River, North Slope, Alaska
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-08) McClelland, James W. ; Stieglitz, Marc ; Pan, Feifei ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Export of nitrate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the upper Kuparuk River between the late 1970s and early 2000s was evaluated using long-term ecological research (LTER) data in combination with solute flux and catchment hydrology models. The USGS Load Estimator (LOADEST) was used to calculate June–August export from 1978 forward. LOADEST was then coupled with a catchment-based land surface model (CLSM) to estimate total annual export from 1991 to 2001. Simulations using the LOADEST/CLSM combination indicate that annual nitrate export from the upper Kuparuk River increased by ~5 fold and annual DOC export decreased by about one half from 1991 to 2001. The decrease in DOC export was focused in May and was primarily attributed to a decrease in river discharge. In contrast, increased nitrate export was evident from May to September and was primarily attributed to increased nitrate concentrations. Increased nitrate concentrations are evident across a wide range of discharge conditions, indicating that higher values do not simply reflect lower discharge in recent years but a significant shift to higher concentration per unit discharge. Nitrate concentrations remained elevated after 2001. However, extraordinarily low discharge during June 2004 and June–August 2005 outweighed the influence of higher concentrations in determining export during these years. The mechanism responsible for the recent increase in nitrate concentrations is uncertain but may relate to changes in soils and vegetation associated with regional warming. While changes in nitrate and DOC export from arctic rivers reflect changes in terrestrial ecosystems, they also have significant implications for Arctic Ocean ecosystems.
  • Article
    Isotopic signals (18O, 2H, 3H) of six major rivers draining the pan-Arctic watershed
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-03-22) Yi, Y. ; Gibson, J. J. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Helie, J.-F. ; Birks, S. J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    We present the results of a 4-year collaborative sampling effort that measured δ18O, δ2H values and 3H activities in the six largest Arctic rivers (the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Kolyma, Yukon and Mackenzie). Using consistent sampling and data processing protocols, these isotopic measurements provide the best available δ2H and 3H estimates for freshwater fluxes from the pan-Arctic watershed to the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, which complements previous efforts with δ18O and other tracers. Flow-weighted annual δ2H values vary from −113.3‰ to −171.4‰ among rivers. Annual 3H fluxes vary from 0.68 g to 4.12 g among basins. The integration of conventional hydrological and landscape observations with stable water isotope signals, and estimation of areal yield of 3H provide useful insights for understanding water sources, mixing and evaporation losses in these river basins. For example, an inverse correlation between the slope of the δ18O-δ2H relation and wetland extent indicates that wetlands play comparatively important roles affecting evaporation losses in the Yukon and Mackenzie basins. Tritium areal yields (ranging from 0.760 to 1.695 10−6 g/km2 per year) are found to be positively correlated with permafrost coverage within the studied drainage basins. Isotope-discharge relationships demonstrate both linear and nonlinear response patterns, which highlights the complexity of hydrological processes in large Arctic river basins. These isotope observations and their relationship to discharge and landscape features indicate that basin-specific characteristics significantly influence hydrological processes in the pan-Arctic watershed.
  • 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
    Increasing river discharge in the Eurasian Arctic : consideration of dams, permafrost thaw, and fires as potential agents of change
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-09-17) McClelland, James W. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Discharge from Eurasian rivers to the Arctic Ocean has increased significantly in recent decades, but the reason for this trend remains unclear. Increased net atmospheric moisture transport from lower to higher latitudes in a warming climate has been identified as one potential mechanism. However, uncertainty associated with estimates of precipitation in the Arctic makes it difficult to confirm whether or not this mechanism is responsible for the change in discharge. Three alternative mechanisms are dam construction and operation, permafrost thaw, and increasing forest fires. Here we evaluate the potential influence of these three mechanisms on changes in discharge from the six largest Eurasian Arctic rivers (Yenisey, Ob', Lena, Kolyma, Pechora, and Severnaya Dvina) between 1936 and 1999. Comprehensive discharge records made it possible to evaluate the influence of dams directly. Data on permafrost thaw and fires in the watersheds of the Eurasian Arctic rivers are more limited. We therefore use a combination of data and modeling scenarios to explore the potential of these two mechanisms as drivers of increasing discharge. Dams have dramatically altered the seasonality of discharge but are not responsible for increases in annual values. Both thawing of permafrost and increased fires may have contributed to changes in discharge, but neither can be considered a major driver. Cumulative thaw depths required to produce the observed increases in discharge are unreasonable: Even if all of the water from thawing permafrost were converted to discharge, a minimum of 4 m thawed evenly across the combined permafrost area of the six major Eurasian Arctic watersheds would have been required. Similarly, sensitivity analysis shows that the increases in fires that would have been necessary to drive the changes in discharge are unrealistic. Of the potential drivers considered here, increasing northward transport of moisture as a result of global warming remains the most viable explanation for the observed increases in Eurasian Arctic river discharge.
  • Article
    The processing and impact of dissolved riverine nitrogen in the Arctic Ocean
    (Springer, 2011-06-11) Tank, Suzanne E. ; Manizza, Manfredi ; Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Although the Arctic Ocean is the most riverine-influenced of all of the world’s oceans, the importance of terrigenous nutrients in this environment is poorly understood. This study couples estimates of circumpolar riverine nutrient fluxes from the PARTNERS (Pan-Arctic River Transport of Nutrients, Organic Matter, and Suspended Sediments) Project with a regionally configured version of the MIT general circulation model to develop estimates of the distribution and availability of dissolved riverine N in the Arctic Ocean, assess its importance for primary production, and compare these estimates to potential bacterial production fueled by riverine C. Because riverine dissolved organic nitrogen is remineralized slowly, riverine N is available for uptake well into the open ocean. Despite this, we estimate that even when recycling is considered, riverine N may support 0.5–1.5 Tmol C year−1 of primary production, a small proportion of total Arctic Ocean photosynthesis. Rapid uptake of dissolved inorganic nitrogen coupled with relatively high rates of dissolved organic nitrogen regeneration in N-limited nearshore regions, however, leads to potential localized rates of riverine-supported photosynthesis that represent a substantial proportion of nearshore production.
  • Preprint
    An analysis of the carbon balance of the Arctic Basin from 1997 to 2006
    ( 2010-06-18) McGuire, A. David ; Hayes, Daniel J. ; Kicklighter, David W. ; Manizza, Manfredi ; Zhuang, Qianlai ; Chen, Min ; Follows, Michael J. ; Gurney, Kevin R. ; McClelland, James W. ; Melillo, Jerry M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Prinn, Ronald G.
    This study used several model-based tools to analyze the dynamics of the Arctic Basin between 1997 and 2006 as a linked system of land-ocean-atmosphere C exchange. The analysis estimates that terrestrial areas of the Arctic Basin lost 62.9 Tg C yr-1 and that the Arctic Ocean gained 94.1 Tg C yr-1. Arctic lands and oceans were a net CO2 sink of 108.9 Tg C yr-1, which is within the range of uncertainty in estimates from atmospheric inversions. Although both lands and oceans of the Arctic were estimated to be CO2 sinks, the land sink diminished in strength because of increased fire disturbance compared to previous decades, while the ocean sink increased in strength because of increased biological pump activity associated with reduced sea ice cover. Terrestrial areas of the Arctic were a net source of 41.5 Tg CH4 yr-1 that increased by 0.6 Tg CH4 yr-1 during the decade of analysis, a magnitude that is comparable with an atmospheric inversion of CH4. Because the radiative forcing of the estimated CH4 emissions is much greater than the CO2 sink, the analysis suggests that the Arctic Basin is a substantial net source of green house gas forcing to the climate system.
  • Article
    Thinking outside the channel : modeling nitrogen cycling in networked river ecosystems
    (Ecological Society of America, 2010-09-08) Helton, Ashley M. ; Poole, Geoffrey C. ; Meyer, Judy L. ; Wollheim, Wilfred M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Mulholland, Patrick J. ; Bernhardt, Emily S. ; Stanford, Jack A. ; Arango, Clay P. ; Ashkenas, Linda R. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Dodds, Walter K. ; Gregory, Stanley V. ; Hall, Robert O. ; Hamilton, Stephen K. ; Johnson, Sherri L. ; McDowell, William H. ; Potter, Jody D. ; Tank, Jennifer L. ; Thomas, Suzanne M. ; Valett, H. Maurice ; Webster, Jackson R. ; Zeglin, Lydia
    Agricultural and urban development alters nitrogen and other biogeochemical cycles in rivers worldwide. Because such biogeochemical processes cannot be measured empirically across whole river networks, simulation models are critical tools for understanding river-network biogeochemistry. However, limitations inherent in current models restrict our ability to simulate biogeochemical dynamics among diverse river networks. We illustrate these limitations using a river-network model to scale up in situ measures of nitrogen cycling in eight catchments spanning various geophysical and land-use conditions. Our model results provide evidence that catchment characteristics typically excluded from models may control river-network biogeochemistry. Based on our findings, we identify important components of a revised strategy for simulating biogeochemical dynamics in river networks, including approaches to modeling terrestrial–aquatic linkages, hydrologic exchanges between the channel, floodplain/riparian complex, and subsurface waters, and interactions between coupled biogeochemical cycles.
  • Article
    Lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-02-09) Holmes, Robert M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Raymond, Peter A. ; Frazer, Breton B. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Stieglitz, Marc
    Arctic rivers transport huge quantities of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the Arctic Ocean. The prevailing paradigm is that DOC in arctic rivers is refractory and therefore of little significance for the biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean. We show that there is substantial seasonal variability in the lability of DOC transported by Alaskan rivers to the Arctic Ocean: little DOC is lost during incubations of samples collected during summer, but substantial losses (20–40%) occur during incubations of samples collected during the spring freshet when the majority of the annual DOC flux occurs. We speculate that restricting sampling to summer may have biased past studies. If so, then fluvial inputs of DOC to the Arctic Ocean may have a much larger influence on coastal ocean biogeochemistry than previously realized, and reconsideration of the role of terrigenous DOC on carbon, microbial, and food-web dynamics on the arctic shelf will be warranted.
  • Article
    Dynamics of N removal over annual time periods in a suburban river network
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-09-23) Wollheim, Wilfred M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Thomas, Suzanne M. ; Hopkinson, Charles S. ; Vorosmarty, Charles J.
    River systems are dynamic, highly connected water transfer networks that integrate a wide range of physical and biological processes. We used a river network nitrogen (N) removal model with daily temporal resolution to evaluate how elevated N inputs, saturation of the denitrification and total nitrate removal processes, and hydrologic conditions interact to determine the amount, timing and distribution of N removal in the fifth-order river network of a suburban 400 km2 basin. Denitrification parameters were based on results from whole reach 15NO3 tracer additions. The model predicted that between 15 and 33% of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) inputs were denitrified annually by the river system. Removal approached 100% during low flow periods, even with the relatively low and saturating uptake velocities typical of surface water denitrification. Annual removal percentages were moderate because most N inputs occurred during high flow periods when hydraulic conditions and temperatures are less favorable for removal by channel processes. Nevertheless, the percentage of annual removal occurring during above average flow periods was similar to that during low flow periods. Predicted river network removal proportions are most sensitive to loading rates, spatial heterogeneity of inputs, and the form of the removal process equation during typical base flow conditions. However, comparison with observations indicates that removal by the river network is higher than predicted by the model at moderately high flows, suggesting additional removal processes are important at these times. Further increases in N input to the network will lead to disproportionate increases in N exports due to the limits imposed by process saturation.
  • Preprint
    Trajectory shifts in the Arctic and Subarctic freshwater cycle
    ( 2006-06-22) Peterson, Bruce J. ; McClelland, James W. ; Curry, Ruth G. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Walsh, John E. ; Aagaard, Knut
    Manifold changes in the freshwater cycle of high-latitude lands and oceans have been reported in the past few years. A synthesis of these changes in sources of freshwater and in ocean freshwater storage illustrates the complementary and synoptic temporal pattern and magnitude of these changes over the past 50 years. Increasing river discharge anomalies and excess net precipitation on the ocean contributed ~20,000 km3 of fresh water to the Arctic and high latitude North Atlantic oceans from lows in the 1960s to highs in the 1990s. Sea ice attrition provided another ~15,000 km3, and glacial melt added ~2000 km3. The sum of anomalous inputs from these freshwater sources matched the amount and rate at which fresh water accumulated in the North Atlantic during much of the period from 1965 through 1995. The changes in freshwater inputs and ocean storage occurred in conjunction with the amplifying North Atlantic Oscillation and rising air temperatures. Fresh water may now be accumulating in the Arctic Ocean and will likely be exported southward if and when the North Atlantic Oscillation enters into a new high phase.
  • Article
    A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-03-30) McClelland, James W. ; Dery, Stephen J. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Wood, Eric F.
    Several recent publications have documented changes in river discharge from arctic and subarctic watersheds. Comparison of these findings, however, has been hampered by differences in time periods and methods of analysis. Here we compare changes in discharge from different regions of the pan-arctic watershed using identical time periods and analytical methods. Discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3/y/y during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America. In contrast, discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/y/y during 1964-2000. While this evaluation identifies an overall increase in discharge (~120 km3/y greater discharge at the end of the time period as compared to the beginning for Hudson/James/Unvaga Bays and the Arctic Ocean combined), the contrasting regional trends also highlight the need to understand the consequences of adding/removing freshwater from particular regions of the arctic and subarctic oceans.
  • Preprint
    Stream denitrification across biomes and its response to anthropogenic nitrate loading
    ( 2007-06-06) Mulholland, Patrick J. ; Helton, Ashley M. ; Poole, Geoffrey C. ; Hall, Robert O. ; Hamilton, Stephen K. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Tank, Jennifer L. ; Ashkenas, Linda R. ; Cooper, Lee W. ; Dahm, Clifford N. ; Dodds, Walter K. ; Findlay, Stuart E. G. ; Gregory, Stanley V. ; Grimm, Nancy B. ; Johnson, Sherri L. ; McDowell, William H. ; Meyer, Judy L. ; Valett, H. Maurice ; Webster, Jackson R. ; Arango, Clay P. ; Beaulieu, Jake J. ; Bernot, Melody J. ; Burgin, Amy J. ; Crenshaw, Chelsea L. ; Johnson, Laura T. ; Niederlehner, B. R. ; O'Brien, Jonathan M. ; Potter, Jody D. ; Sheibley, Richard W. ; Sobota, Daniel J. ; Thomas, Suzanne M.
    Worldwide, anthropogenic addition of bioavailable nitrogen (N) to the biosphere is increasing and terrestrial ecosystems are becoming increasingly N saturated, causing more bioavailable N to enter groundwater and surface waters. Large-scale N budgets show that an average of about 20-25% of the N added to the biosphere is exported from rivers to the ocean or inland basins, indicating substantial sinks for N must exist in the landscape. Streams and rivers may be important sinks for bioavailable N owing to their hydrologic connections with terrestrial systems, high rates of biological activity, and streambed sediment environments that favor microbial denitrification. Here, using data from 15N tracer experiments replicated across 72 streams and 8 regions representing several biomes, we show that total biotic uptake and denitrification of nitrate increase with stream nitrate concentration, but that the efficiency of biotic uptake and denitrification declines as concentration increases, reducing the proportion of instream nitrate that is removed from transport. Total uptake of nitrate was related to ecosystem photosynthesis and denitrification was related to ecosystem respiration. Additionally, we use a stream network model to demonstrate that excess nitrate in streams elicits a disproportionate increase in the fraction of nitrate that is exported to receiving waters and reduces the relative role of small versus large streams as nitrate sinks.
  • Article
    Surface and hyporheic transient storage dynamics throughout a coastal stream network
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-06-22) Briggs, Martin A. ; Gooseff, Michael N. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Morkeski, Kate ; Wollheim, Wilfred M. ; Hopkinson, Charles S.
    Transient storage of stream water and associated solutes is expected to vary along stream networks in response to related changes in stream hydraulic conditions and morphologic gradients. These spatial changes are relevant to a wide variety of processes (e.g., biogeochemical cycling), yet data regarding these dynamics are limited and almost exclusively confined to the general storage terms of transient storage models with a single-storage zone (1-SZ). We used a transient storage model with two-storage zones (2-SZ) to simulate field data from conservative solute injections conducted in a coastal stream network in Massachusetts to separately quantify surface transient storage (STS) and hyporheic transient storage (HTS). Solute tracer additions were performed at basin-wide, low-flow conditions, and results were compared with respect to stream size. Strong positive relationships with reach contributing area indicated that the size of the main channel and the size and residence time in surface and hyporheic storage zones all increased from small to large streams. Conversely, longitudinal dispersion and the storage zone exchange coefficients had no consistent trends downstream. The influence of storage exchange on median transport time ( $F_{MED}^{200}$) was consistently large for STS and negligible for HTS. When compared to 1-SZ model estimates, we found that the general 1-SZ model storage terms did not consistently describe either STS or HTS exchange. Overall our results indicated that many zone-specific (STS and HTS) storage dynamics were sensitive to the combination of hydraulic and morphologic gradients along the stream network and followed positive trends with stream size.
  • Article
    Residence time distributions in surface transient storage zones in streams : estimation via signal deconvolution
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-05-11) Gooseff, Michael N. ; Benson, David A. ; Briggs, Martin A. ; Weaver, Mitchell ; Wollheim, Wilfred M. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Hopkinson, Charles S.
    Little is known about the impact of surface transient storage (STS) zones on reach-scale transport and the fate of dissolved nutrients in streams. Exchange with these locations may influence the rates of nutrient cycling often observed in whole-stream tracer experiments, particularly because they are sites of organic matter collection and lower flow velocities than those observed in the thalweg. We performed a conservative stream tracer experiment (slug of dissolved NaCl) in the Ipswich River in northeastern Massachusetts and collected solute tracer data both in the thalweg and adjacent STS zones at three locations in a fifth-order reach. Tracer time series observed in STS zones are an aggregate of residence time distributions (RTDs) of the upstream transport to that point (RTDTHAL) and that of the temporary storage within these zones (RTDSTS). Here we demonstrate the separation of these two RTDs to determine the RTDSTS specifically. Total residence times for these individual STS zones range from 4.5 to 7.5 h, suggesting that these zones have the potential to host important biogeochemical transformations in stream systems. All of the RTDSTS show substantial deviations from the ideal prescribed by the two-state (mobile/immobile) mass transfer equations. The deviations indicate a model mismatch and that parameter estimation based on the mass transfer equations will yield misleading values.
  • Article
    Quantifying the production of dissolved organic nitrogen in headwater streams using 15N tracer additions
    (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2013-07) Johnson, Laura T. ; Tank, Jennifer L. ; Hall, Robert O. ; Mulholland, Patrick J. ; Hamilton, Stephen K. ; Valett, H. Maurice ; Webster, Jackson R. ; Bernot, Melody J. ; McDowell, William H. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Thomas, Suzanne M.
    Most nitrogen (N) assimilation in lake and marine ecosystems is often subsequently released via autochthonous dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) production, but autochthonous DON production has yet to be quantified in flowing waters. We measured in-stream DON production following 24 h 15N-nitrate () tracer additions in 36 headwater streams, a subset of sites from the second Lotic Intersite Nitrogen eXperiment. Streams were located in five North American ecoregions and drained basins dominated by native vegetation, agriculture, or urban land use. Using a two-compartment model, we could quantify DON production in 15 streams as a function of DO15N derived from 15N tracer in biomass compartments. The streams with detectable DON production had higher % modified land use (agriculture + urban) in their basins than did streams with undetectable DON production. Median DON production represented 8% of total uptake when we used N biomass estimates based on N assimilated over 1 d (measured directly from the 15N additions). Median DON production was 17% of total uptake when we used N assimilated over 42 d (extrapolated from previous 15N tracer studies). Variation in DON production was positively correlated with ecosystem respiration, indicating that stream heterotrophy may influence DON production. In-stream DON production was similar in magnitude to stream denitrification and nitrification, indicating that the production of autochthonous DON can represent a substantial transformation of stream N. Our results confirm that headwater streams can quickly convert inorganic N into organic forms, although the ultimate fate of DON remains unclear.
  • 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
    Denitrification across landscapes and waterscapes : a synthesis
    (Ecological Society of America, 2006-12) Seitzinger, Sybil P. ; Harrison, John A. ; Bohlke, John K. ; Bouwman, A. F. ; Lowrance, R. Richard ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Tobias, Craig R. ; Van Drecht, G.
    Denitrification is a critical process regulating the removal of bioavailable nitrogen (N) from natural and human-altered systems. While it has been extensively studied in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems, there has been limited communication among denitrification scientists working in these individual systems. Here, we compare rates of denitrification and controlling factors across a range of ecosystem types. We suggest that terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems in which denitrification occurs can be organized along a continuum ranging from (1) those in which nitrification and denitrification are tightly coupled in space and time to (2) those in which nitrate production and denitrification are relatively decoupled. In aquatic ecosystems, N inputs influence denitrification rates whereas hydrology and geomorphology influence the proportion of N inputs that are denitrified. Relationships between denitrification and water residence time and N load are remarkably similar across lakes, river reaches, estuaries, and continental shelves. Spatially distributed global models of denitrification suggest that continental shelf sediments account for the largest portion (44%) of total global denitrification, followed by terrestrial soils (22%) and oceanic oxygen minimum zones (OMZs; 14%). Freshwater systems (groundwater, lakes, rivers) account for about 20% and estuaries 1% of total global denitrification. Denitrification of land-based N sources is distributed somewhat differently. Within watersheds, the amount of land-based N denitrified is generally highest in terrestrial soils, with progressively smaller amounts denitrified in groundwater, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and estuaries. A number of regional exceptions to this general trend of decreasing denitrification in a downstream direction exist, including significant denitrification in continental shelves of N from terrestrial sources. Though terrestrial soils and groundwater are responsible for much denitrification at the watershed scale, per-area denitrification rates in soils and groundwater (kg N·km−2·yr−1) are, on average, approximately one-tenth the per-area rates of denitrification in lakes, rivers, estuaries, continental shelves, or OMZs. A number of potential approaches to increase denitrification on the landscape, and thus decrease N export to sensitive coastal systems exist. However, these have not generally been widely tested for their effectiveness at scales required to significantly reduce N export at the whole watershed scale.
  • Article
    Sediment and nutrient delivery from thermokarst features in the foothills of the North Slope, Alaska : potential impacts on headwater stream ecosystems
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-06-03) Bowden, William B. ; Gooseff, Michael N. ; Balser, A. ; Green, A. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Bradford, J.
    Permafrost is a defining characteristic of the Arctic environment. However, climate warming is thawing permafrost in many areas leading to failures in soil structure called thermokarst. An extensive survey of a 600 km2 area in and around the Toolik Lake Natural Research Area (TLNRA) revealed at least 34 thermokarst features, two thirds of which were new since ∼1980 when a high resolution aerial survey of the area was done. Most of these thermokarst features were associated with headwater streams or lakes. We have measured significantly increased sediment and nutrient loading from thermokarst features to streams in two well-studied locations near the TLNRA. One small thermokarst gully that formed in 2003 on the Toolik River in a 0.9 km2 subcatchment delivered more sediment to the river than is normally delivered in 18 years from 132 km2 in the adjacent upper Kuparuk River basin (a long-term monitoring reference site). Ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate concentrations downstream from a thermokarst feature on Imnavait Creek increased significantly compared to upstream reference concentrations and the increased concentrations persisted over the period of sampling (1999–2005). The downstream concentrations were similar to those we have used in a long-term experimental manipulation of the Kuparuk River and that have significantly altered the structure and function of that river. A subsampling of other thermokarst features from the extensive regional survey showed that concentrations of ammonium, nitrate, and phosphate were always higher downstream of the thermokarst features. Our previous research has shown that even minor increases in nutrient loading stimulate primary and secondary production. However, increased sediment loading could interfere with benthic communities and change the responses to increased nutrient delivery. Although the terrestrial area impacted by thermokarsts is limited, the aquatic habitat altered by these failures can be extensive. If warming in the Arctic foothills accelerates thermokarst formation, there may be substantial and wide-spread impacts on arctic stream ecosystems that are currently poorly understood.
  • Article
    The Arctic freshwater system : changes and impacts
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-11-20) White, Daniel ; Hinzman, Larry ; Alessa, Lilian ; Cassano, John ; Chambers, Molly ; Falkner, Kelly ; Francis, Jennifer ; Gutowski, William J. ; Holland, Marika M. ; Holmes, Robert M. ; Huntington, Henry ; Kane, Douglas ; Kliskey, Andrew ; Lee, Craig M. ; McClelland, James W. ; Peterson, Bruce J. ; Rupp, T. Scott ; Straneo, Fiamma ; Steele, Michael ; Woodgate, Rebecca ; Yang, Daqing ; Yoshikawa, Kenji ; Zhang, Tingjun
    Dramatic changes have been observed in the Arctic over the last century. Many of these involve the storage and cycling of fresh water. On land, precipitation and river discharge, lake abundance and size, glacier area and volume, soil moisture, and a variety of permafrost characteristics have changed. In the ocean, sea ice thickness and areal coverage have decreased and water mass circulation patterns have shifted, changing freshwater pathways and sea ice cover dynamics. Precipitation onto the ocean surface has also changed. Such changes are expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in the coming century, enhanced by complex feedbacks between the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial freshwater systems. Change to the arctic freshwater system heralds changes for our global physical and ecological environment as well as human activities in the Arctic. In this paper we review observed changes in the arctic freshwater system over the last century in terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic systems.
  • Article
    Stable isotope monitoring of benthic–planktonic coupling using salt marsh fish
    (Inter-Research, 2008-10-13) Fry, Brian ; Cieri, Matthew ; Hughes, Jeff ; Tobias, Craig R. ; Deegan, Linda A. ; Peterson, Bruce J.
    Salt marshes are important coastal ecosystems whose trophic function can be monitored with stable isotopes of abundant fish biosentinel species such as the mummichog Fundulus heteroclitus and the Atlantic silverside Menidia menidia. We compared movement patterns and feeding biology of these species in the summers of 1999 and 2000 in the Rowley River salt marsh estuary north of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. A 15N tracer addition experiment showed that fish of both species were more resident than transient, with mummichogs resident at scales of 1 km or less. Natural abundance stable isotope C, N, and S distributions showed that mummichogs feed more strongly in the benthic food web while silversides feed more in the planktonic food web, with % benthic feeding respectively averaging 58 ± 5 and 32 ± 3% (mean ± 95% confidence limit, CL). For both species, isotope results indicated considerable individual specialization in foraging behavior, likely related to use of channel habitat versus use of the marsh. Power analysis showed that measuring 3 composite samples each comprising 10 to 15 individual fish should provide relatively low errors of 0.5‰ (95% CL) or less around stable isotope averages. Use of such composite samples in monitoring programs will allow detection of significant temporal and spatial changes in benthic-planktonic coupling for salt marsh ecosystems, as recorded in average fish diets. Analyzing some individual fish also is recommended to obtain more detailed information on fish food sources, feeding specializations, and end-member isotope values used in estimating importance of benthic and planktonic food sources.