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Faculty Research Advisor
Ruth K. Varner
In an aquatic ecosystem, freshwater is filtered by fluvial wetlands into streams which are a source of several greenhouse gases (GHG) contributing to climate change. Natural features and urban development affect the production of GHG such as methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Nitrogen (N) loading into a watershed due to human activities is a possible source of elevated nitrate (NO3-) and therefore potentially higher emissions of N2O (Beaulieu et. al, 2011). The source of CO2 and its effects as a GHG are well-studied, but less is known about the production and emission of N2O in rivers and streams. My objective was to study the relationship between gas flux and environmental parameters to gain insight into how flux responds to land-use.
I addressed the relationship between gas flux and environmental parameters by measuring gas flux and water quality at six locations in a temperate watershed along a nitrate gradient. These measurements provided insight into how N2O flux varies along the gradient and across the season as well as its relationship with NO3-. These measurements were compared with temperature, discharge, dissolved oxygen concentration, and pH to determine if any correlations existed.
Studying the relationships between the atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems can provide meaningful data that helps quantify global GHG flux rates and could provide important information about groundwater quality or nitrogen load reduction initiatives.
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DeVries, Diane, "Stream Greenhouse Gas Emissions Along a Wetland Gradient in the Ipswich River, Massachusetts" (2020). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 455.