Riparian Zones: Groundwater Nitrate (NO ) Cycling

Authored by: Pao K. Wang

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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Nitrate is the most mobile form of nitrogen in groundwater and can be transported long distances without transformation. Coastal estuaries are sensitive to excessive nitrogen loading from the watershed, with over-fertilization contributing to eutrophication and hypoxia, stressing marine life. Vegetated riparian zones are a common management practice used to reduce nitrate delivery to coastal waters. Because of their position between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, vegetated riparian zones provide opportunities for nitrate transformation before emerging to surface water. Riparian zones vary spatially and temporally and this variation affects the extent to which groundwater nitrate cycling occurs. Plant uptake, microbial immobilization and denitrification are major groundwater nitrate transformation pathways.

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