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Control of Nitrogen Exports From River Basins to the Coastal Ocean: Evaluation of Basin Management Strategies for Reducing Coastal Hypoxia
  • Published Date:
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, 123(10), 3111-3123.
Filetype[PDF-1.04 MB]

  • Description:
    The spread of coastal hypoxia is a pressing global problem, largely caused by substantial nitrogen (N) exports from river basins to the coastal ocean. Most previous process-based modeling studies for investigating basin management strategies to reduce river N exports focused on the impacts of different farming practices or land use, used watershed models that simplified many mechanisms that critically affect the state of N storage in land, were limited mainly to fairly small basins, and did not span multiple climate regimes. Here we use a process-based land-river model to simulate historical (1999-2010) river flows and nitrate-N exports throughout the entire drainage network of South Korea (100,210km(2)), which encompasses varying climate, land use, and hydrogeological characteristics. Based on projections by using multiple scenarios of N input reductions and climates, we explore the impacts of various ecosystem factors (i.e., N storage in basins, climate and its variability, anthropogenic N inputs, and basin location) on river nitrate-N exports. Our findings have fundamental implications for reducing coastal hypoxia: (1) a small reduction of N inputs in basins, including intensively utilized human land use, can have a greater improvement on water quality; (2) heightening climate variability may not increase long-term mean river N exports yet can significantly mask N input reduction effects by producing N export extremes associated with recurring coastal hypoxia; and (3) N exports to the coastal ocean can be most efficiently reduced by decreasing N inputs in subbasins, which are receiving high anthropogenic N inputs and are close to the coast.
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