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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nitrate Removal in a First-Order Riparian Ecosystem: Processes and Effectiveness

Authors
item Angier, Jonathan
item McCarty, Gregory

Submitted to: Maryland Water Monitoring Council Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 2003
Publication Date: March 30, 2003
Citation: Angier, J., McCarty, G.W. 2003. Nitrate removal in a first-order Riparian Ecosystem: Processes and effectiveness [abstract]. Maryland Water Monitoring Council Annual Meeting. p. 1.

Technical Abstract: Riparian ecosystems can serve as buffer zones between agricultural and urban contaminant sources and coastal oceans and embayments. However, the overall remediation capabilities of these systems have not been adequately evaluated. The removal of contaminants transmitted to riparian zones through groundwater is particularly difficult to assess. Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants and can be removed within a riparian system in several ways. Various mechanisms for nitrate removal have been examined in this study in an effort to identify the predominant remediation processes, the relative importance of each, and how these processes interact in a natural environment. Vegetative uptake of nutrients, denitrification within wetland soils, and in-stream contaminant processing were evaluated. The study site consists of a first-order riparian zone in an agricultural watershed in Beltsville, Maryland. The site is instrumented with 5 stream sampling/monitoring stations, 160 piezometers, and 2 transects of trees (9 trees total) fitted with sap flow sensors. The small size and relative segregation of the site, and extensive instrumentation, allow for accurate measurements and analyses of processes within the riparian wetland. We have found that nitrate mitigation is highly variable (spatially and temporally) in this ecosystem and that many processes are closely linked which may affect the overall remediation capacity of the system.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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