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Nitrogen cycle. Biogeochemistry October 17, 2005 Maria Moskalenko, Gretchen Miles, Emily Paduano, Jaconette Mirck. Outline. Background Information on N Papers: Kaiser, 2001. The Other Global Pollutant Agriculture: fertilizer & food Mitsch, 2001. Reducing N loading to Gulf

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nitrogen cycle

Nitrogen cycle


October 17, 2005

Maria Moskalenko, Gretchen Miles,

Emily Paduano, Jaconette Mirck

  • Background Information on N
  • Papers:
  • Kaiser, 2001. The Other Global Pollutant
    • Agriculture: fertilizer & food
  • Mitsch, 2001. Reducing N loading to Gulf
    • Mississippi River-hypoxia
    • Solutions to N-pollution
  • Driscoll, 2003. N Pollution in Northeast US
    • Atmospheric Inputs
    • Estuaries
    • Models
  • Discussion
nitrogen the other global pollutant kaiser 2001
Nitrogen the other global pollutant (Kaiser, 2001)
  • Essential element for growth/primary production
  • Surplus nitrogen = pollutant
  • Sources:
    • Fertilizer
    • Fossil fuels
  • Results in various problems:
    • Algal bloom
    • Greenhouse gas
    • Ozone
  • Increase requirements for fossil fuels
    • Smaller cars
    • Hybrids
  • Eat less meat to reduce food of live stock
    • Less manure
  • Food control, precise amino acid ratio
  • Reduce runoff
  • Increase price of fertilizer

Reducing Nitrogen Loading to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin: Strategies to Counter a Persistent Ecological Problem-Mitsch, et al. 2001

  • Anthropogenic Additions of N to aquatic systems cause
    • Increased Productivity
    • Eutrophication
    • Hypoxia
    • Fish Kills
  • Agriculture
  • Waste Water
  • Draining Wetlands
solutions controlling n in miss river basin
Solutions: Controlling N in Miss. River Basin
  • Modifying Agricultural Practice

- use less fertilizer

- apply fertilizer in spring

- account for N sources present

  • Riparian and Wetland Buffers

- effective nitrogen sinks due to high levels of denitrification

solutions cont
Solutions cont.
  • Urban & Suburban Non-point Source Control
  • Point Source Control
  • Controls on Atmospheric NOx
  • Mississippi River Diversions
benefits of reducing nitrogen levels in the mississippi river basin
Benefits of Reducing Nitrogen Levels in the Mississippi River Basin
  • Predicted 40% reduction of nitrogen loading to the Gulf through implementation of these practices
  • In addition to reduced hypoxia

- reduced river pollution

- reduced wetland loss

- improved river ecosystems

- improved control of floods

northeast u s brief history
Northeast U.S. Brief History
  • Population Changes
  • Land Use Changes
  • Capacity of 2nd Growth Forests for N-retention
n pollution sources in northeast u s driscoll et al 2003
N-pollution Sources in Northeast U.S. (Driscoll et al. 2003)
  • Atmospheric N Sources
  • Food Imports
  • Fertilizer & Farming Practices
  • Feed Imports
  • Wastewater Effluent
  • Mycorrhizae & Legumes
  • Acidic Deposition
  • Ground Level Ozone Formation
  • Coastal Eutrophication
  • Acidification & Overfertilization N-enrichment
    • Forest (N-saturation)
    • Freshwater

(high flow)

Smog in LA & Chicago

wet deposition and emissions
Wet Deposition and Emissions

a: nitrate, sulfate, b: nitrate & ammonium, c: sulfate, nitrate, chloride

ozone formation
Ozone Formation
  • For Formation: NOx & VOC’s (volitile organic compounds)
    • Or NO from soil + Oxygen
  • VOC’s were thought to be limiting factor
    • Automobile VOC’s are regulated
    • VOC’s are also produced naturally (isoprene)
  • In Northeast U.S. we now believe that NOx regulates O3 formation
  • Ground Level O3 in many U.S. cities exceeds National Ambient Air Quality Standards
solution reductions in n
Solution: Reductions in N

Management Options:

  • Coastal Watersheds
    • Wastewater Treatment Plants
    • Agriculture
  • Atmosphere
    • Fossil fuel electric utilities
    • Transportation
    • Agriculture
purpose of modeling
Purpose of Modeling
  • Models were run to test proposed management options and determine their effectiveness
  • Atmospheric Model: PnET-BGC
  • Estuary Loading: WATERSN

Estuary: Major N-source

Wastewater effluent:

Add biotic N-removal to wastewater treatment practices


Source Specific Control

(due to numerous sources)

discussion topics
Discussion Topics
  • Ecotechnology
    • Phytoremediation
    • Willow Project
  • Theoretical Models vs. Real Life Problems?
  • Lifestyle Changes
    • No Meat = No Nitrogen
    • SUV’s, Hybrids,Public Transportation, Walk, Bike
  • Other Effects of N
    • Purely Atmospheric take on N- Aerosols
willow applications
Willow Applications
  • Set-aside arable land
  • Bio-remediation of contaminated soils, like brownfields (phytoremediation)
  • Nutrient and waste management systems
  • Windbreaks/snow fences
  • Buffer zones for clean water

Incorporating willow biomass crops into riparian buffers produces clean water and renewable energy (Salix Maskiner 2000)

soil conservation
Soil Conservation
  • Very little soil erosion once the crop is established
  • Negligible N leaching from established willow plantings, even with large applications nitrogen (Adegbidi 1999, Aronsson et al. 2000).

One year old coppcie growth

nitrogen movement
Nitrogen Movement

Trial with organic amendments with nitrogen loads ranging from 200 – 1,880 TKN kg/ha (Adeigbidi 1999)



Aerosols absorb or scatter light

Ecological Effect


GCEP 2004 Orientation Presentation by Jeff Gaffney