skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Accounting for hydrological and microbial processes on greenhouse gas budgets from river systems. Final report

Abstract

River systems have a disproportionately large impact on carbon and nitrogen cycling on this planet. For instance, despite their much smaller size in area, it is estimated that global carbon dioxide emission from river systems exceed the emission from lakes and reservoirs, and are on par with the estimated oceanic and land carbon sinks. Closing carbon and nitrogen budgets in river systems requires knowledge of end member greenhouse gas (GHG) products (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane), which typically have not been measured in river systems. Moreover, while the production of these gasses is thought to be microbially derived, little is known about microbial activities in sediments of large rivers, despite their potentially high influence on biogeochemical budgets. Typically, when we think of rivers we visualize the channels that carve through the earth, but this only represents a small part of the hydrologic exchange that a river participates in. Rivers are more than conduits; they are dynamically exchanging water and materials with surrounding terrestrial and subsurface environments. In fact, 96% of the carbon dioxide produced within river systems occurs in hyporheic zones, or sediment regions beneath and alongside a river where groundwater and river water mix. In fact, it ismore » widely recognized that microbial processes in hyporheic zones, also known as the river’s liver, strongly influence the fate of carbon, nutrients, and contaminants transported through watersheds. Despite this general knowledge, observational studies linking nitrogen and carbon gas production to microbial activity, and studies of overall gas emissions, are limited across river systems, but especially absent from larger rivers. To identify microbial processes responsible for GHG emissions from large rivers, and to quantify their environmental drivers and dependencies, we selected the Columbia River as a representative field site. This is the largest river west of the North American Continental Divide, and produces a drainage and discharge roughly double of the Nile in Egypt. This river is also an important source for agricultural irrigation and generates more hydroelectric power than any other North American river. Dams manage the release of water in the river, with these changes in river discharge patterns strongly impacting microbial activities in hyporheic zones. Specifically, we target a region down-river from the Priest Rapids Dam (WA) associated with the PNNL SFA, where water discharge from the dam is highly controlled, resulting in 1.5 m fluctuations in river stage daily. This dynamic river stage creates an ideal research opportunity for investigating hydrological perturbations in GHG production, uptake, and emission from large river systems. In this exploratory 1-year project, we conducted data-driven field research to provide observations needed to support predictions about GHG flux from river ecosystems. Using porewater dialysis and surface flux measurements, we observed where and when GHGs were produced and is the emission impacted by river stage. Using meta-omics tools, we determined what microbial processes control production and consumption of GHG in these systems. Finally, we provided key observations to parameterize models that could predict the effect of environmental conditions on GHG emission in the Columbia River near shore environment, at the scale that the modeled processes operate. Closing knowledge gaps in the linkages between river stage, microbial processes, and GHG production and emission, as well as the spatial distribution and ecosystem dependencies of these processes, is necessary to better parameterize land surface models. We provide some of the first, detailed GHG measurements paired microbial activity from large river systems. Our findings have direct relevance to many other large rivers with flows altered by hydroelectric energy, reservoirs, snowmelt, tides, or agriculture.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [1];  [1];  [3];  [4]
  1. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (United States)
  2. Colorado State University, Columbus, OH (United States)
  3. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO (United States)
  4. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The Ohio State University
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER). Biological Systems Science Division
Contributing Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
OSTI Identifier:
1515174
Report Number(s):
DOE-OSU-8170
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0018170
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; River, greenhouse gas, genomics, sub-surface, biogeochemistry

Citation Formats

Bohrer, Gil, Wrighton, Kelly C., Villa, Jorge, Smith, Garret, Rodriguez-Ramos, Josue, and Stegen, James. Accounting for hydrological and microbial processes on greenhouse gas budgets from river systems. Final report. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.2172/1515174.
Bohrer, Gil, Wrighton, Kelly C., Villa, Jorge, Smith, Garret, Rodriguez-Ramos, Josue, & Stegen, James. Accounting for hydrological and microbial processes on greenhouse gas budgets from river systems. Final report. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1515174
Bohrer, Gil, Wrighton, Kelly C., Villa, Jorge, Smith, Garret, Rodriguez-Ramos, Josue, and Stegen, James. Thu . "Accounting for hydrological and microbial processes on greenhouse gas budgets from river systems. Final report". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1515174. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1515174.
@article{osti_1515174,
title = {Accounting for hydrological and microbial processes on greenhouse gas budgets from river systems. Final report},
author = {Bohrer, Gil and Wrighton, Kelly C. and Villa, Jorge and Smith, Garret and Rodriguez-Ramos, Josue and Stegen, James},
abstractNote = {River systems have a disproportionately large impact on carbon and nitrogen cycling on this planet. For instance, despite their much smaller size in area, it is estimated that global carbon dioxide emission from river systems exceed the emission from lakes and reservoirs, and are on par with the estimated oceanic and land carbon sinks. Closing carbon and nitrogen budgets in river systems requires knowledge of end member greenhouse gas (GHG) products (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane), which typically have not been measured in river systems. Moreover, while the production of these gasses is thought to be microbially derived, little is known about microbial activities in sediments of large rivers, despite their potentially high influence on biogeochemical budgets. Typically, when we think of rivers we visualize the channels that carve through the earth, but this only represents a small part of the hydrologic exchange that a river participates in. Rivers are more than conduits; they are dynamically exchanging water and materials with surrounding terrestrial and subsurface environments. In fact, 96% of the carbon dioxide produced within river systems occurs in hyporheic zones, or sediment regions beneath and alongside a river where groundwater and river water mix. In fact, it is widely recognized that microbial processes in hyporheic zones, also known as the river’s liver, strongly influence the fate of carbon, nutrients, and contaminants transported through watersheds. Despite this general knowledge, observational studies linking nitrogen and carbon gas production to microbial activity, and studies of overall gas emissions, are limited across river systems, but especially absent from larger rivers. To identify microbial processes responsible for GHG emissions from large rivers, and to quantify their environmental drivers and dependencies, we selected the Columbia River as a representative field site. This is the largest river west of the North American Continental Divide, and produces a drainage and discharge roughly double of the Nile in Egypt. This river is also an important source for agricultural irrigation and generates more hydroelectric power than any other North American river. Dams manage the release of water in the river, with these changes in river discharge patterns strongly impacting microbial activities in hyporheic zones. Specifically, we target a region down-river from the Priest Rapids Dam (WA) associated with the PNNL SFA, where water discharge from the dam is highly controlled, resulting in 1.5 m fluctuations in river stage daily. This dynamic river stage creates an ideal research opportunity for investigating hydrological perturbations in GHG production, uptake, and emission from large river systems. In this exploratory 1-year project, we conducted data-driven field research to provide observations needed to support predictions about GHG flux from river ecosystems. Using porewater dialysis and surface flux measurements, we observed where and when GHGs were produced and is the emission impacted by river stage. Using meta-omics tools, we determined what microbial processes control production and consumption of GHG in these systems. Finally, we provided key observations to parameterize models that could predict the effect of environmental conditions on GHG emission in the Columbia River near shore environment, at the scale that the modeled processes operate. Closing knowledge gaps in the linkages between river stage, microbial processes, and GHG production and emission, as well as the spatial distribution and ecosystem dependencies of these processes, is necessary to better parameterize land surface models. We provide some of the first, detailed GHG measurements paired microbial activity from large river systems. Our findings have direct relevance to many other large rivers with flows altered by hydroelectric energy, reservoirs, snowmelt, tides, or agriculture.},
doi = {10.2172/1515174},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1515174}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {5}
}