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Isotopic Assessment of Nitrogen Cycling in River Basins: Potential and Limitations for Nutrient Management Purposes

Abstract

It has been proposed that the stable isotopic composition of riverine nitrate may help reveal the predominant sources of N loading of riverine systems, including inorganic fertilizers and manure derived nitrates from agricultural systems and nitrates from urban wastewater effluents. A literature review reveals that rivers in pristine and forested headwaters are generally characterized by low nitrate concentrations and {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values <5 per mille, whereas rivers draining well developed watersheds characterized by major urban centres and/or intensive agriculture have higher nitrate concentrations and {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values of between +5 and +15% per mille. Relating elevated {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values to specific nitrogen sources or to estimate nutrient loading rates for management purposes, however, is challenging for a variety of reasons: (1) the nitrogen isotopic composition of agricultural derived nitrate can be variable and may overlap with the {delta}{sup 15}N value of wastewater nitrate; (2) soil zone and riparian denitrification may cause changes in the concentration and isotopic composition of riverine nitrate; and (3) in-stream nutrient uptake processes may affect the isotopic composition of dissolved nitrogen compounds. To maximize the information gained from isotopic studies of riverine nitrogen compounds we recommend that: (1) numerous sampling sites are established  More>>
Authors:
Mayer, B.; [1]  Sebilo, M.; [2]  Wassenaar, L. I. [3] 
  1. Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta (Canada)
  2. PMC University Paris 06, UMR BIOEMCO, Paris (France)
  3. Environment Canada, Saskatoon (Canada)
Publication Date:
May 15, 2013
Product Type:
Technical Report
Report Number:
IAEA-TECDOC-1695
Resource Relation:
Other Information: 4 figs., 106 refs.; Related Information: In: Application of Isotope Techniques for Assessing Nutrient Dynamics in River Basins| 250 p.
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; AGRICULTURE; AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS; DENITRIFICATION; FERTILIZERS; ISOTOPE RATIO; NITRATES; OXYGEN 16; OXYGEN 18; WATERSHEDS
OSTI ID:
22118963
Research Organizations:
International Atomic Energy Agency, Isotope Hydrology Section, Vienna (Austria)
Country of Origin:
IAEA
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
Other: ISBN 978-92-0-138810-0; ISSN 1011-4289; TRN: XA13R0661075599
Availability:
Available from INIS in electronic form. Also available on-line: http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/TE-1695_web.pdf; Enquiries should be addressed to IAEA, Marketing and Sales Unit, Publishing Section, E-mail: sales.publications@iaea.org; Web site: http://www.iaea.org/books
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
page(s) 15-34
Announcement Date:
Aug 08, 2013

Citation Formats

Mayer, B., Sebilo, M., and Wassenaar, L. I. Isotopic Assessment of Nitrogen Cycling in River Basins: Potential and Limitations for Nutrient Management Purposes. IAEA: N. p., 2013. Web.
Mayer, B., Sebilo, M., & Wassenaar, L. I. Isotopic Assessment of Nitrogen Cycling in River Basins: Potential and Limitations for Nutrient Management Purposes. IAEA.
Mayer, B., Sebilo, M., and Wassenaar, L. I. 2013. "Isotopic Assessment of Nitrogen Cycling in River Basins: Potential and Limitations for Nutrient Management Purposes." IAEA.
@misc{etde_22118963,
title = {Isotopic Assessment of Nitrogen Cycling in River Basins: Potential and Limitations for Nutrient Management Purposes}
author = {Mayer, B., Sebilo, M., and Wassenaar, L. I.}
abstractNote = {It has been proposed that the stable isotopic composition of riverine nitrate may help reveal the predominant sources of N loading of riverine systems, including inorganic fertilizers and manure derived nitrates from agricultural systems and nitrates from urban wastewater effluents. A literature review reveals that rivers in pristine and forested headwaters are generally characterized by low nitrate concentrations and {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values <5 per mille, whereas rivers draining well developed watersheds characterized by major urban centres and/or intensive agriculture have higher nitrate concentrations and {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values of between +5 and +15% per mille. Relating elevated {delta}{sup 15}N{sub nitrate} values to specific nitrogen sources or to estimate nutrient loading rates for management purposes, however, is challenging for a variety of reasons: (1) the nitrogen isotopic composition of agricultural derived nitrate can be variable and may overlap with the {delta}{sup 15}N value of wastewater nitrate; (2) soil zone and riparian denitrification may cause changes in the concentration and isotopic composition of riverine nitrate; and (3) in-stream nutrient uptake processes may affect the isotopic composition of dissolved nitrogen compounds. To maximize the information gained from isotopic studies of riverine nitrogen compounds we recommend that: (1) numerous sampling sites are established along a river and sampled frequently in order to capture spatial and seasonal changes; (2) the isotopic composition of nitrate (including {sup 18}O/{sup 16}O) and dissolved ammonium be determined if possible; (3) riverine nitrogen loading be determined and interpreted in context along with isotope data, and; (4) major and relevant nitrogen inputs to the watershed be identified and their isotopic values measured. This approach will help to minimize ambiguities in the interpretation of obtained isotope data and maximize the information required for nutrient management purposes. (author)}
place = {IAEA}
year = {2013}
month = {May}
}