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Chen, B., S.X. Chang, S.K. Lam, J.W. Erisman and B. Gu. 2017. Land use mediates riverine nitrogen export under the dominant influence of human activities. Environmental Research Letters. 12(9).


DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa84bc

Type of document: Journal Article

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More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Prof J. W. Erisman, PhD


Language of document: English

Title in English: Land use mediates riverine nitrogen export under the dominant influence of human activities

Abstract / summary in English:

Riverine nitrogen (N) export is a crucial process that links upstream and downstream ecosystems and coastal zones. However, the driving forces of riverine N export that is closely related to water N pollution are still not well understood. In this study, we used a mass balance approach to quantify the sources of N discharge and analyzed the effect of land use composition on riverine N export, taking Zhejiang Province, China as a case study. We found that the total reactive N discharge to rivers in Zhejiang increased from 0.22 to 0.26 Tg yr−1 from 2000 to 2015. At the watershed scale, our estimate of N export agrees well with the monitored riverine N concentration in the eight major watersheds in Zhejiang. Direct discharge of domestic wastewater and effluents from wastewater treatment plants are dominant sources of riverine N export, followed by agricultural non-point sources. Although riverine N export increases with the increasing proportion of urban and agricultural land uses, we did not find any relationship between land use change and changes in riverine N export. This suggests that the dominant factor affecting riverine N export should be human activities (e.g. wastewater discharge and fertilization level), while land use only mediates riverine N export.


Keywords in English: mass balance, source apportionment, land use change, human activities, scale effect, buffer zone
Land use mediates riverine nitrogen export under the dominant influence of human activities