Nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes from watersheds of the northeast U.S. from 1930 to 2000: Role of anthropogenic nutrient inputs, infrastructure, and runoff

Rebecca L. Hale, Nancy Grimm, Charles J. Vörösmarty, Balazs Fekete

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An ongoing challenge for society is to harness the benefits of nutrients, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), while minimizing their negative effects on ecosystems. While there is a good understanding of the mechanisms of nutrient delivery at small scales, it is unknown how nutrient transport and processing scale up to larger watersheds and whole regions over long time periods. We used a model that incorporates nutrient inputs to watersheds, hydrology, and infrastructure (sewers, wastewater treatment plants, and reservoirs) to reconstruct historic nutrient yields for the northeastern U.S. from 1930 to 2002. Over the study period, yields of nutrients increased significantly from some watersheds and decreased in others. As a result, at the regional scale, the total yield of N and P from the region did not change significantly. Temporal variation in regional N and P yields was correlated with runoff coefficient, but not with nutrient inputs. Spatial patterns of N and P yields were best predicted by nutrient inputs, but the correlation between inputs and yields across watersheds decreased over the study period. The effect of infrastructure on yields was minimal relative to the importance of soils and rivers. However, infrastructure appeared to alter the relationships between inputs and yields. The role of infrastructure changed over time and was important in creating spatial and temporal heterogeneity in nutrient input-yield relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Fingerprint

Watersheds
Runoff
Phosphorus
Nutrients
Nitrogen
infrastructure
watershed
runoff
Fluxes
phosphorus
nutrient
nitrogen
Hydrology
Sewers
Wastewater treatment
Ecosystems
hydrology
temporal variation
Rivers
Soils

Keywords

  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes from watersheds of the northeast U.S. from 1930 to 2000 : Role of anthropogenic nutrient inputs, infrastructure, and runoff. / Hale, Rebecca L.; Grimm, Nancy; Vörösmarty, Charles J.; Fekete, Balazs.

In: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 29, No. 3, 01.03.2015, p. 341-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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