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Nitrogen to the Coast

GCE scientists determined that only 9% of the nitrogen that enters watersheds in the southeastern US is transported to the coast, compared to 25% in the northeast. They suggest that the difference is due to increased temperatures in the south, and that global estimates of nitrogen export are too high.

Schaefer, S.C. and Alber, M., 2007. Temperature controls a latitudinal gradient in the proportion of watershed nitrogen exported to coastal ecosystems. Biogeochemistry, 85: 333-346.
Schaefer, S.C. and Alber, M.A. 2007. Temporal and spatial trends in nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the watershed of the Altamaha River, Georgia, USA. Biogeochemistry. 86(3):231-249. (DOI: 10.1007/s10533-007-9155-6)
Schaefer, S.C., Hollibaugh, J.T. and Alber, M., 2009. Watershed nitrogen input and riverine export on the west coast of the U.S. Biogeochemistry, 93(3): 219-233.
Merryl Alber
Water sampling station in the lower Ogeechee River, Georgia. Inset: GCE-LTER graduate student Sylvia Schaefer processing a water sample.
Joan Sheldon
Riverine N export as a percentage of total input to watersheds of the eastern U.S. as a function of latitude. Calculations for "SCOPE" watersheds (diamonds) were done as part of the International Scope Nitrogen project (Boyer et al. 2002); calculations for southeastern watersheds (circles) were done by GCE investigators (Schaefer and Alber 2007). Solid line at approximately 38 degrees north latitude indicates a potential break point between northern and mid-Atlantic watersheds (blue symbols) and southeastern watersheds (red).
Adapted from Schaefer and Alber 2007



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