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Anthropogenic point-source and non-point-source nitrogen inputs into Huai River basin and their impacts on riverine ammonia–nitrogen flux

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Abstract

This study provides a new approach to estimate both anthropogenic non-point-source and point-source nitrogen (N) inputs to the landscape, and determines their impacts on riverine ammonia-nitrogen (AN) flux, providing a foundation for further exploration of anthropogenic effects on N pollution. Our study site is Huai River basin of China, a water–shed with one of the highest levels of N input in the world. Multi-year average (2003-2010) inputs of N to the watershed are 27 200 ± 1100 kg N km-2 yr-1. Non-point sources comprised about 98 % of total N input, and only 2 % of inputs are directly added to the aquatic ecosystem as point sources. Fertilizer application was the largest non-point source of new N to the Huai River basin (69 % of net anthropogenic N inputs), followed by atmospheric deposition (20 %), N fixation in croplands (7 %), and N content of imported food and feed (2 %). High N inputs showed impacts on riverine AN flux: fertilizer application, point-source N input, and atmospheric N deposition were proved as more direct sources to riverine AN flux. Modes of N delivery and losses associated with biological denitrification in rivers, water consumption, interception by dams may influence the extent of export of riverine AN flux from N sources. Our findings highlight the importance of anthropogenic N inputs from both point sources and non-point sources in heavily polluted watersheds, and provide some implications for AN prediction and management.

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This study was financially supported by the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (no. KZZD-EW-10-02-3), the 13th Five-Year Plan of Chinese Academy of Sciences (no. YSW2013B02) and State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology scientific project (no. SKLURE2013-1-05). The authors wish to express their gratitude to the China Scholarship Council (201408110138) for funding the visiting venture that generated this paper, and to Huai River Basin Water Resources Protection Bureau and Hydrologic Information Center of Huai River Commission for providing water quality and hydrological data.

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2015-07-22

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Copernicus

Keywords

ammonia; anthropogenic effect; aquatic ecosystem; atmospheric deposition; denitrification; fertilizer application

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Biogeosciences, 12, 4275-4289

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