New research about how nitrogen moves throughout the Arctic rivers and streams was selected as an Editor Highlight in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.
Former graduate student from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI), now Ph.D., Matt Khosh led the study. The editors of the journal selected his research as a highlight because “the findings contribute to our understanding of the timing, magnitude, and seasonal composition of nitrogen delivered from Arctic systems over the course of a meltwater season and have implications with regards to expected changes in a warming world.”
Research and work in the Arctic faces a huge logistical challenges and information on how nitrogen moves throughout those systems are very limited. This research sheds light on the seasonal dynamics and provides much needed information on potential nitrogen contributions from Arctic watersheds to its coastal zones.
One of the key discoveries from this research was that rivers and streams on the North Slope of Alaska carry extraordinarily high concentrations of nitrogen, in the form of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, during late summer and fall. This nitrogen has the potential to fuel late-season primary productivity, like algal blooms, in the Arctic Ocean. More importantly, this research can be coupled with climate change predictions to enable scientists to better estimate how nutrient loading might change in the future, which could have dramatic impacts to coastal ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean. “While nitrogen moving through rivers and streams are an important part of a natural cycle, the seasonality of those dynamics is particularly important now because warmer temperatures in the Arctic are causing earlier spring snowmelt and later fall freezeup in many regions,” said Khosh.
Dr. Khosh is joined in the research by Jim McClelland from UTMSI, Andrew Jacobson and Gregory Lehn from Northwestern University, and Thomas Douglas and Amanda Barker from U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.