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Controls on nitrous oxide production and consumption in reservoirs of the Ohio River Basin
Beaulieu, J., C. Nietch, AND J. Young. Controls on nitrous oxide production and consumption in reservoirs of the Ohio River Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 120(10):1995-2010, (2015).
To inform the public.
Aquatic ecosystems are a globally significant source of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas, but estimates are largely based on studies conducted in streams and rivers with relatively less known about N2O dynamics in lakes and reservoirs. Due to long water residence times and high nitrogen (N) loading rates, reservoirs support substantial N processing and therefore may be particularly important sites of N2O production. Predicting N2O emissions from reservoirs is difficult due to complex interactions between microbial N processing in the oxygen poor hypolimnion and oxygen rich epilimnion. Here we present the results of a survey of N2O depth profiles in 20 reservoirs draining a broad range of land-use conditions in four States in the U.S.. Nitrous oxide was supersaturated in the epilimnion of 80% of the reservoirs and was undersaturated in only one, indicating that reservoirs in this region are generally a source of N2O to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide was undersaturated in the hypolimnion of ten reservoirs, supersaturated in nine, and transitioned from supersaturation to undersaturation in one reservoir that was monitored periodically from mid-summer to fall. All reservoirs with a mean hypolimnion nitrate concentration less than 50 µg N L-1 showed evidence of net N2O consumption in the hypolimnion. All reservoirs sampled during lake turnover supported N2O production throughout the water column. These results indicate that N2O dynamics in reservoirs differ widely both among systems and through time, but can be predicted based on N and oxygen availability and degree of thermal stratification.