Regional variability in the atmospheric nitrogen deposition signal and its transfer to the sediment record in Greenland lakes
journal contributionposted on 08.08.2018, 14:06 by Nicholas John AndersonNicholas John Anderson, Chris J. Curtis, Erika J. Whiteford, Vivienne J. Jones, Suzanne McGowan, Gavin L. Simpson, Jan Kaiser
Disruption of the nitrogen cycle is a major component of global environmental change. δ15N in lake sediments is increasingly used as a measure of reactive nitrogen input but problematically, the characteristic depleted δ15N signal is not recorded at all sites. We used a regionally replicated sampling strategy along a precipitation and N‐deposition gradient in SW Greenland to assess the factors determining the strength of δ15N signal in lake sediment cores. Analyses of snowpack N and δ15N‐NO3 and water chemistry were coupled with bulk sediment δ15N. Study sites cover a gradient of snowpack δ15N (ice sheet: −6‰; coast urn:x-wiley:00243590:media:lno10936:lno10936-math-000110‰), atmospheric N deposition (ice sheet margin: ∼ 0.2 kg ha−1 yr−1; coast: 0.4 kg ha−1 yr−1) and limnology. Three 210Pb‐dated sediment cores from coastal lakes showed a decline in δ15N of ca. urn:x-wiley:00243590:media:lno10936:lno10936-math-00021‰ from ∼ 1860, reflecting the strongly depleted δ15N of snowpack N, lower in‐lake total N (TN) concentration (∼ 300 μg N L−1) and a higher TN‐load. Coastal lakes have 3.7–7.1× more snowpack input of nitrate than inland sites, while for total deposition the values are 1.7–3.6× greater for lake and whole catchment deposition. At inland sites and lakes close to the ice‐sheet margin, a lower atmospheric N deposition rate and larger in‐lake TN pool resulted in greater reliance on N‐fixation and recycling (mean sediment δ15N is 0.5–2.5‰ in most inland lakes; n = 6). The primary control of the transfer of the atmospheric δ15N deposition signal to lake sediments is the magnitude of external N inputs relative to the in‐lake N‐pool.
Natural Environment Research Council. Grant Number: NE/G019622/1
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment