Global N removal by freshwater aquatic systems using a spatially distributed, within-basin approach

W.M. Wollheim, C.J. Vörösmarty, A.F. Bouwman, P. Green, J. Harrison, E. Linder, B.J. Peterson, S.P. Seitzinger, J.P.M. Syvitski

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Abstract

We explored the role of aquatic systems in the global N cycle using a spatially distributed, within-basin, aquatic nitrogen (N) removal model, implemented within the Framework for Aquatic Modeling in the Earth System (FrAMES-N). The model predicts mean annual total N (TN) removal by small rivers (with drainage areas from 2.6¿1000 km2), large rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, using a 30¿ latitude × longitude river network to route and process material from continental source areas to the coastal zone. Mean annual aquatic TN removal (for the mid-1990s time period) is determined by the distributions of aquatic TN inputs, mean annual hydrological characteristics, and biological activity. Model-predicted TN concentrations at basin mouths corresponded well with observations (median relative error = ¿12%, interquartile range of relative error = 85%), an improvement over assumptions of uniform aquatic removal across basins. Removal by aquatic systems globally accounted for 14% of total N inputs to continental surfaces, but represented 53% of inputs to aquatic systems. Integrated aquatic removal was similar in small rivers (16.5% of inputs), large rivers (13.6%), and lakes (15.2%), while large reservoirs were less important (5.2%). Bias related to runoff suggests improvements are needed in nonpoint N input estimates and/or aquatic biological activity. The within-basin approach represented by FrAMES-N will improve understanding of the freshwater nutrient flux response to anthropogenic change at global scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberGB2026
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • gulf-of-mexico
  • nitrogen export
  • northeastern usa
  • rivers
  • stream
  • lakes
  • size
  • denitrification
  • impact
  • fluxes

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    Wollheim, W. M., Vörösmarty, C. J., Bouwman, A. F., Green, P., Harrison, J., Linder, E., ... Syvitski, J. P. M. (2008). Global N removal by freshwater aquatic systems using a spatially distributed, within-basin approach. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 22, [GB2026]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GB002963