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Water 2017, 9(6), 415; doi:10.3390/w9060415

Sources and Dynamics of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus in a Large Agricultural River Basin in Arid Northwestern China

1
Institute of Water Sciences, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
2
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Alabama, 201 7th Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
3
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, South University of Science and Technology of China, Shenzhen 518055, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Xiangzheng Deng
Received: 9 March 2017 / Revised: 5 June 2017 / Accepted: 5 June 2017 / Published: 9 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Management within Inland River Watershed)
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Abstract

The present study assessed the export of inorganic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus within a large agricultural basin in arid northwestern China. Groundwater of various depths and river water along a 160 km reach were sampled during contrasting flow conditions. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations and δ13C-DIC values indicate that lithogenic carbonate weathering was the main source of DIC in the basin. Discharge played an important role in regulating the amount and flowpath of nutrients mobilized from soils to the river. Ammonium was mobilized mostly by storm flows whereas the other nutrients were exported through both storm and groundwater flows. Hydrological events, occurring on only about 10% of the days for a year, were responsible for more than 40% of annual nutrient exports. Shallow groundwater was an important source of DIC and nitrate in river water within the alluvial plain, where groundwater discharges regulated their longitudinal variability along the river. According to a mixing model using δ13C-DIC and chloride, groundwater comprised 9–34% and 39–60% of river water at high discharge and baseflow, respectively. Together, our data highlight the importance of reducing storm runoffs and monitoring nutrient pollution within this large basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: dissolved inorganic carbon; δ13C-DIC; N and P nutrients; the Heihe River Basin; agriculture; storm export of nutrients; groundwater-river water interaction dissolved inorganic carbon; δ13C-DIC; N and P nutrients; the Heihe River Basin; agriculture; storm export of nutrients; groundwater-river water interaction
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Hu, Y.; Lu, Y.; Liu, C.; Shang, P.; Liu, J.; Zheng, C. Sources and Dynamics of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus in a Large Agricultural River Basin in Arid Northwestern China. Water 2017, 9, 415.

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