Special Issue "Tracing of Nitrogen Using Stable Isotopes: From Precipitation to River and Groundwater Systems"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ioannis Matiatos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
(Former) International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria
Interests: nitrate isotopes; biogeochemical processes; origin of N pollution; isotope hydrology; hydrogeology; statistical models
Dr. Wendell Walters
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
Interests: nitrogen cycling; nitrogen deposition; environmental geochemistry; atmospheric chemistry; stable isotopes
Dr. Viviana Re
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Interests: nitrate isotopes; nitrogen cycling; origin of N pollution; isotope hydrology; hydrogeology; environmental geochemistry; socio-hydrogeology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The nitrogen cycle (N cycle) is the circulation of nitrogen among the atmosphere and the hydrosphere through conversion into multiple nitrogen chemical forms via (biogeo)chemical processes. Excess nitrogen loading has altered the global N cycle, often resulting in the eutrophication of rivers and lakes (often witnessed as algal blooms and hypoxia), and health-related contamination issues of groundwater, particularly when interacting with surface waters and used for drinking water purposes. Anthropogenic activities including fossil-fuel combustion and agricultural practices have significantly perturbed the global N cycle. Trace N gases emitted, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3), are transformed in the atmosphere and undergo wet and/or dry deposition, introducing fixed forms of nitrogen to often sensitive ecosystems. In addition to atmospheric inputs, nitrogen is introduced in the terrestrial environment through natural (e.g., soil) but mostly through anthropogenic point (e.g., wastewater treatment plants) and non-point sources (fertilizers, animal breeding facilities). N species (e.g., NO3-, NH4+) undergo biogeochemical changes in aquatic systems (e.g., nitrification, denitrification) depending on the physical–chemical conditions, which makes nitrogen tracing a challenge. Stable isotopes of nitrate (δ15N and δ18O), in conjunction with other indicators (e.g., chemical ions, emerging contaminants, water isotopes), constitute a reliable tool to identify N pollution sources in river/ground water bodies, including wet deposition, and aid in unveiling the complexity of the (biogeo)chemical processes nitrogen undergoes in the atmosphere and the aquatic environment, including soils. Moreover, Bayesian-type source apportionment models (e.g., SIAR, MixSIAR, Simmr) are used to estimate the contribution of different N pollution sources to water bodies by taking into account fractionation processes, such as denitrification, in many cases.

This Special Issue encourages the submission of works aiming at studying the atmospheric and terrestrial aquatic compartments of the N cycle through the use of nitrogen isotope tracers. Research on the following topics is promoted: (i) source contributions to atmospheric nitrate; (ii) N atmospheric chemistry processes and wet deposition; (iii) sources of nitrogen pollution in rivers and groundwaters in relation to land-use practices; (iv) biogeochemical processes in ecosystems and their resilience to nitrogen pollution; (v) statistical modeling techniques to quantify N contribution sources in different compartments of the N cycle; (vi) N cycling in rivers on the spatial and temporal scale; and (vii) evaluation of the N-cascading impact of nitrogen deposition and pollution on water resources and ecosystems. Examination of these N aspects is critically important to enhance the implementation of beneficial land management and mitigation strategies toward a sustainable management and protection of water resources.

Dr. Ioannis Matiatos
Dr. Wendell Walters
Dr. Viviana Re
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • sources of N pollution
  • biogeochemical processes
  • nitrogen wet deposition
  • land uses
  • eutrophication
  • stable isotopes
  • bayesian modelling
  • surface water–groundwater interaction
  • N cycling
  • sustainable management

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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