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Nitrous Oxide Emissions from a Large, Impounded River: The Ohio River
BEAULIEU, J. J., W. D. SHUSTER, AND J. A. REBHOLZ. Nitrous Oxide Emissions from a Large, Impounded River: The Ohio River. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 44(19):7527-7533, (2010).
To inform the public.
Models suggest that microbial activity in streams and rivers is a globally significant source of anthropogenic nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas and the leading cause of stratospheric ozone destruction. However, model estimates of N2O emissions are poorly constrained due to a lack of direct measurements of microbial N2O production and consequent emissions, particularly from large rivers. We report the first N2O budget for a large, nitrogen enriched river, based on direct measurements of N2O emissions from the water surface and N2O production in the sediments and water column. Maximum N2O emissions occurred downstream from Cincinnati, OH, a major urban center on the river, due to direct inputs of N2O from waste water treatment plant effluent and higher rates of in situ production. Microbial activity in the water column and sediments was a source of N2O, and water column production rates were nearly double those of the sediments. Emissions exhibited strong seasonality with the highest rates observed during the summer and lowest during the winter. Our results indicate N2O dynamics in large temperate rivers may be characterized by strong seasonal cycles and production in the pelagic zone.
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